About Sleep Breathing Disorders
Snoring and sleep apnea are two of the most common sleep-related breathing disorders. The position of the jaws and related structures influences the development of sleep apnea, making the dentist a key professional in the diagnosis and treatment for selective cases.
Snoring by itself is generally not a health problem, however it can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Patients who suffer with OSA repeatedly stop breathing while they sleep.
What causes Snoring & Sleep Apnea?
There is no single cause for snoring or sleep apena. Often times snoring is made worse by drinking, smoking or using sedatives. Patients who are overweight are also more likely to snore or suffer from sleep apnea. The prevalence of sleep apnea increases with age and it is estimated that as many as 50% of elderly men and women suffer from the disorder.
Signs & Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
When you visit Dr. Caves in Columbus, GA, we will review your medical history and discuss some of the signs that could indicate a sleep breathing disorder. Common signs include:
- Daytime sleepiness and the tendency to fall asleep while reading, watching television or driving
- Loud snoring
- Gasping while sleeping
- Dry mouth
- Morning headaches
- Problems with concentration, mood and mental clarity
Diagnosing a Sleep-Related Breathing Disorder
Diagnosing a sleep-related breathing disorder such as OSA typically involves the dentist as well as the patient's physician and/or other specialists. The medical team may use diagnostic imaging such as x-rays, to examine the airway and look for signs of blockage. A sleep study may also be recommended to evaluate the quality of sleep.
Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Treatment of sleep apnea is personalized to the symptoms and needs of the individual. There are many lifestyle changes a person can make to alleviate the symptoms of snoring or sleep apnea such as weight loss, smoking cessation and eliminating the use of alcohol and sedatives before bed.
While the CPAP is the gold standard treatment for sleep apnea, it has a very low compliance rate among patients. The chief complaint is that the CPAP is uncomfortable and obtrusive.
Studies have shown that an oral appliance is more effective because it is more likely to be used by patients. Dr. Caves can fabricate a custom oral appliance that is small, discreet and comfortable to wear.