Obstructive Sleep Apnea(OSA) is a growing field of concern and awareness today. What many people consider just the annoyance of snoring can be a much more serious condition.
The sound can just be a by product of a condition that has a wide range of affects on a person’s health. From heart disease and arhythmias, diabetes, obesity to car acccidents, lowered work production and more, this condition is very prevelant in today’s society. Click this link for a video about OSA.Sleep Apnea is the actual stopping of breathing during sleep, resulting in diminished air to the brain and body. It can range from mild to moderate to severe, with people having incidences of up to 90 seconds, multiple times during the night.
As a dentist I am not qualified to do the actual testing or evaluation to determine if a patient has OSA, this must be performed by a trained sleep specialist and center. Something that is not always being done by “Snore Centers”. What I feel are my roles in treating and diagnosis of these conditions are:
– Recognizing certain indicators, that can tell us if you are a candidate for evaluation. Certain signs in the mouth are very much associated with the condition, whether it be size of opening to the airway, dental condition and more. Other external signs as well as symptoms revealed by the patient can also be flags.
– One thing that is different about most patients experience in our style of dental office versus the clinic environment or especially the experience at your general medical practitioner, is the time spent in conversation. Insurance driven offices have no time to “chat”, but these chats can reveal a lot about peoples health. Whether the patient falls asleep in our chair, relates how his/her spouse complains about the snoring or relates their loss of mentally sharpness (all side affects of sleep apnea), we get to hear this information
I feel my role is in recognizing and pointing the patient in the right direction, i.e. sleep centers and specialists. We offer a short questionairre to all patients (see link) and then referrals to sleep centers, where they can be evaluated and treated.
Treatment can have multiple forms, which can be explained and determined by the severity as well as compliance and wants of the patient. One such treament is an oral, dental device that can only be fabricated by a qualified dentist. If this option becomes the one of choises, then the patient can return to us for the fabrication and delivery of said appliance. These are not to be confused with the low end “snore devices” offered by dentists or on TV. Eliminating the snoring without evaluation may only mask the condition and be a bigger problem in the future.
All these tests and treatments will be covered by your medical insurance (if your insurance covers it), giving the patient much better coverage than the minimal amount dental insurance covers.