This morning I woke to one of my most favorite phenomenon – The Monday Holiday. Thank you, Dr. King; I breezed into work with no traffic, and the world is a better place for having had you in it.
On my speedy and problem free commute to work this morning I was listening to NPR and they had two stories about sleep – nightmares & PTSD, and Sleep Apnea.
So they had an obvious segue from the heart rending story about PTSD and nightmares to the more everyday (every night I suppose would be more apt) occurrence of sleep apnea. Which gives me the segue from Dr. King’s famous speech to today’s blog.
Sleep apnea is what we used to call snoring. What we didn’t realize until recently was that snoring is much more than annoying; it can be life threatening. Apnea means the cessation of breathing. So sleep apnea is when a person sounds as if they are snoring, but actually they have stopped breathing while sleeping.
I will not quote NPR; you can see the link for yourself. However, what I came away with was that some physicians prescribe sleep studies to be done in a lab, which costs a couple grand, and is often paid for by medical insurance, for many patients who merely snore. Does the medical community over evaluate, over treat, or over diagnose (disorders that are “covered”) in order to pad the coffers? I don’t know, and that’s not my point.
My point is that dentistry can help. We now have the ability to allow our patients to do inexpensive, home sleep studies to see if they are breathing well while sleeping, or if they have sleep apnea. This is a great advance; not only can traditional sleep studies be quite costly, they are also very inconvenient. I don’t know how well I’d sleep in a lab, not well I am guessing. The evaluation we use in dentistry is done in your own bed with a few monitors attached to your fingers and body. Piece of cake.
If a patient finds that they have apnea, and they do not want to wear a CPAP, which is the gold standard of treatment for sleep apnea, (but let’s face it who wants to have a fighter pilots mask on their face all night?) we can make a dental device that is far less obtrusive.
The apnea device made in a dental office holds the jaw in a comfortable and stable position so that the soft palate doesn’t flop while sleeping. That keeps the air way clear and keeps us breathing normally all night. An added benefit to the apnea device is that you also cannot grind your teeth while wearing it. Whooo hooo two birds with one stone! Teeth grinding, or occlusal disease, once known as TMJ dysfunction, is another problem for many of us, but that is a subject for another blog.
If you would like to talk with us about sleep apnea and what we can do to help you please call us at 703-532-1712