We are excited to announce that our office is taking on a new level of screening and care in evaluating for obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep. OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain -- and the rest of the body -- may not be getting enough oxygen.
More than 22 million adults in the United States alone are estimated to have sleep apnea, with only 3 million actually being diagnosed.
Untreated sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, chronic heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. Untreated sleep apnea is also associated with Type II diabetes and depression.
As dental professionals, we are able to look in the mouth and see signs that are indicators of sleep apnea. These signs include certain bite problems, tooth wear, acid erosion, jaw and tongue size and shape, and throat anatomy. We also have the ability to fabricate mouth appliances that pull the lower jaw forward and open the airway during sleep. These appliances can successfully treat mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
In July-September of last year, Dr. McDonald completed a mini residency in evaluating and treating patients with obstructive sleep apnea at NYU. Since completing this course, she brought 3D x-ray technology into the office and we now have the ability to take a 3D x-ray of the airway and determine if there are any constrictions that could increase the risk of sleep apnea. We also have a home sleep study device that we can send home with patients and have partnered with a board certified sleep physician to read the sleep studies and diagnose sleep apnea. We also work with the best labs in the county to be able to make sleep apnea guards that are comfortable and have the ability to treat patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
Since sleep apnea is a medical problem, most medical insurances will help with the costs of evaluation and treatment and we now have the ability to bill medical insurance companies.
If you have any concerns about sleep apnea or have concerns for any friends or family members, we would love to help. Please call the office to schedule your complimentary consultation.
Image Source: Huffington Post's "Snoring is a Feminist Issue".