People who are unfortunately afflicted with sleep apnea–a sleep disorder that consists of abnormal pauses in breathing during sleep, particularly with snorers–often visit sleep clinics or their primary care physicians for treatment. Many are prescribed CPAP machines or referred for surgical procedures such as tonsillectomies or the Pillar procedure, but there has been a new breakthrough in sleep apnea treatments, and it’s actually come from the world of dentistry.
Sleep dentistry has recently emerged, which, as it sounds, focuses on dental treatments to help sleep apnea. According to the Dental Tribune, dentists can treat the sleeping disorder because “they understand how occlusion and the position of the jaw can influence a patient’s airway.”
Instead of prescribing CPAP, which is something many patients dislike, sleep dentists can create oral appliances perfectly customized for the patient’s mouth that attends to exactly what is causing the apnea. Except in extreme circumstances, these devices most often stop sleep apnea (and snoring!) completely and eliminate all suggestions for surgery.
Several dentists have already seen a growing demand for help with sleep apnea, thanks to Google research pointing out a sleep dentistry option to those looking to avoid CPAP machines and surgery. Dr. Mark Weiser of Santa Barbara, California has echoed the same. “A lot of the appliances I’m making are for CPAP patients that can’t stand their mask and whatnot, so they go to Google and look for other options,” he said.
Dr. Don Lawrence, a dentist in Corpus Christi, Texas, explained, “As a dentist, I feel I have an opportunity to ‘bridge the gap’ so to speak, and help catch more cases of sleep apnea. They’re in my chair, and it doesn’t take that much time to ask some simple questions that tell whether or not a sleep study is warranted.”
If you are a chronic snorer or have sleep apnea or know someone who has either, be sure to talk to your dentist and see if sleep dentistry treatments can easily help you without visiting a sleep clinic.