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. 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. Furgurson, he 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. Diagnostic imaging such as x-rays may be done to examine the airway and look for signs of blockage. A sleep study may be performed, either at home or at a specialist’s office, to evaluate the quality of sleep.
Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Treatment for OSA will vary based on the individual diagnosis. Certain lifestyle changes can help to alleviate the symptoms of OSA including weight loss, smoking cessation and eliminating alcohol and sedative use. The CPAP is the gold standard treatment for sleep apnea, but often has a poor compliance level, because people often find it to be uncomfortable.
An oral appliance has shown to be the preferred treatment among most patients. An oral appliance is small, discreet and comfortable to wear. Dr. Furgurson can fabricate a custom made sleep apnea appliance, similar to a sports mouth guard, for you to wear during sleep.