Dr. Basem Rashad - DMD

Many people suffer from snoring, and it can have a significant impact on their quality of life. It can affect how well your partner sleeps and how much you sleep. 

Sleep apnea is a prolonged condition in which the sufferer experiences trouble breathing while they sleep. While many people often assume that this condition solely affects middle-aged or older men, it can affect anyone regardless of age or gender. One of the best ways to receive treatment for sleep apnea is through a sleep study. Sleep studies are non-invasive procedures that diagnose sleep apnea and inform doctors of necessary measures to treat the condition.

However, did you know that your dentist could be the key to solving your snoring woes? Our dentist, Dr. Woodfork, in Marlton, New Jersey, is trained to identify and treat sleep apnea, which is a common cause of snoring. By recommending oral appliances, for example, she can help reposition your jaw and tongue to keep your airway open and prevent snoring. 

Dr. Sherly, the owner of Acorn Dental, wants to help you live better through better sleep. So the next time you struggle to catch a good night’s sleep, consider making an appointment to see if we can help you stop snoring once and for all.

Exploring the Connection Between Dental Health and Sleep Apnea

When it comes to oral healthcare, most people think of toothbrushes, floss, and regular dental visits to prevent cavities and gum disease. At Acorn Dental, we’re committed to providing comprehensive care that doesn’t just focus on your teeth but your whole wellness. 

An estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. It is a condition characterized by repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep. These interruptions can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes and can occur multiple times per hour, depriving the body of oxygen and leading to fragmented sleep. 

There are two primary types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, resulting in brief interruptions in breathing. These pauses can happen numerous times throughout the night and cause a host of problems, including excessive daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, and mood changes. If left untreated, OSA can also increase the risk of more severe health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and stroke. OSA is by far the more common type of sleep apnea.

Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, where the airway is blocked, central sleep apnea (CSA) is caused by the brain failing to signal the muscles to breathe. It is also a complex disorder that can impact individuals of any age, gender, or health status. CSA can lead to various complications, including decreased oxygen levels, disrupted sleep, and an increased risk of heart failure. It is important for individuals experiencing symptoms of OSA or CSA to seek medical advice to receive an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.

If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, the first step is to undergo a sleep study to determine the severity of your condition. A sleep study, also known as a polysomnography, is a non-invasive test that monitors your breathing patterns, heart activity, brain waves, and other metrics while you sleep. Acorn Dental is here to help guide you through the necessary steps. 

The consultation sets the stage; the diagnostic sleep study confirms the diagnosis and the treatment plan targets the problem. Ultimately, sleep studies are essential to getting the required treatment plan just right.

The following are the five crucial steps involved in a sleep study for sleep apnea treatment: 

Step One: The Consultation

It all begins with a consultation. The patient approaches the doctor, expressing concern or suspicion regarding their sleep quality. The doctor then proceeds to carry out a quick examination to identify the mouth and throat areas’ physical features that might contribute to sleep apnea. The doctor asks questions about the patient’s sleeping habits and medical history since they may affect the diagnosis.

Step Two: The Study

After we confirm the suspicion during the consultation, we book the patient for a sleep study. During the sleep study, we insert sensors on the patient’s scalp, chest, and legs, and a cannula for the nose to measure their brain activity, heart rate, and breathing while they sleep. A sleep technologist will monitor the patient throughout the night, observing their breathing, eye movement, muscle activity, and oxygen level.

Step Three: Diagnosis

Once we complete the sleep study, we send the data we score to a sleep specialist who analyzes the results. Based on these findings, the specialist will diagnose the patient either as having obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, or varying degrees of apnea severity which helps direct the appropriate treatment plan.

Step Four: Treatment Plan

The sleep specialist communicates the diagnosis and recommendations to the patient’s doctor, who then creates the appropriate treatment plan. This treatment plan may include surgery, medication, or a personalized oral appliance to wear during sleep, which helps move the obstructive tissues out of the way. The device also stabilizes the tongue and soft tissues.

Step Five: Follow-Up

After we administer the recommended treatment plan, we will set further appointments with the specialist and Acorn Dental to monitor and evaluate progress. Any necessary adjustments or changes are made during these appointments to ensure optimal treatment.

How Can You Treat Sleep Apnea?

Several treatment options are available for sleep apnea, ranging from lifestyle changes to surgical interventions. Oral appliance therapy is one of the most common treatment methods, especially for patients with mild to moderate OSA. This treatment involves wearing a unique, custom-fit device that holds the jaw in a slightly forward position during sleep, helping to keep the airway open and prevent interruptions in breathing. Oral appliances are comfortable, portable, and easy to use, and often preferred over traditional CPAP machines, which require a cumbersome mask and can be noisy and uncomfortable.

But you may also benefit from a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, and it is a medical device used to treat sleep apnea by delivering a steady stream of air pressure to keep your airway open while you sleep. This air can help you breathe more easily and reduce snoring and other symptoms of sleep apnea. 

CPAP machines have come a long way in recent years, with many now offering advanced features like heated humidification, adjustable air pressure, and even built-in sleep tracking. While using a CPAP machine may take some time to get used to, it can be a lifesaving treatment option for those with sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Treatment in Marlton, New Jersey

Can your dentist help you sleep better and even stop snoring? Yes, depending on the dentist! At Dr. Sherly’s Acorn Dental, we’re passionate about helping our patients achieve their best possible health, including better sleep. 

 If you or a loved one is struggling with sleep apnea or suspect you may have the condition, please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our friendly and dedicated dental team. We’ll work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and helps you get the restful and refreshing sleep you deserve. Sweet dreams!