How Your Dentist Can Help You With Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common condition that can disrupt your sleep enough to interfere with your daily life — it can also cause you to develop chronic headaches and high blood pressure. This article explains mask-free treatment options and how seeing the best dentist in San Jose can help.

Senior man has sleep apnea causing health issues

Approximately 39 million adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), also known as just sleep apnea. The CDC reports that a much higher number of people have sleep apnea but haven’t been diagnosed or are ignoring the symptoms, don’t realize they have symptoms, or aren’t sure where to get diagnosed.

Since sleep apnea can easily be diagnosed by examining the mouth and throat anatomy, dentists can be the first to notice if a patient is at risk for sleep apnea. In fact, many dentists can now order at-home sleep studies to test patients for apnea.

Read on to learn more about symptoms and how a dentist can help you with maskless treatment options.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder in which breathing stops and restarts frequently while you sleep. This can prevent your body from getting enough oxygen and cause you to feel tired during the day, experience headaches, and develop other health conditions.

Risk factors for sleep apnea include:

  • Being overweight

  • Having a large neck circumference

  • Being male

  • Having a family history of sleep apnea

  • Using alcohol or sedatives, especially before sleeping

  • Being a smoker

  • Having nasal congestion, either from an illness or allergies

  • Advancing age

There are also different types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type and is caused by the airway becoming obstructed — usually by the muscles of the throat intermittently relaxing during sleep.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Symptoms of sleep apnea can be subtle for some people, especially children. The most common symptom for both adults and children is snoring.

Other symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Feeling tired during the day

  • Poor school or work performance

  • Episodes where breathing stops during sleep

  • Abruptly waking up at night

  • Feeling short of breath when you wake up

  • Dry mouth after sleeping or sore throat in the morning

  • Headaches, especially when you wake up

  • Difficulty concentrating during the day

  • Mood changes such as depression or irritability

  • High blood pressure

  • Night sweats

If you share a bed with someone, they may notice your sleep apnea symptoms before you notice them yourself — especially if you snore loudly or frequently stop and start breathing in your sleep.

What Can Happen if Sleep Apnea Is Not Treated?

Ignoring apnea symptoms can lead to serious health complications, including:

  • High blood pressure

  • An increased risk of heart disease, heart attacks, or stroke

  • An increased risk of developing diabetes

  • Chronic fatigue that makes it difficult to perform tasks during the day

  • Impaired reflexes and inability to concentrate due to drowsiness

  • Poor school or work performance and depression

Additionally, untreated apnea can impact overall cognitive function, especially in older people.

How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

Sleep apnea is often categorized based on severity, using testing known as a sleep study. A trained professional often orders a sleep study if they believe you have symptoms or other medical conditions that put you at higher risk. A sleep study involves wearing sensors while you sleep that measure your breathing patterns and vital signs, including your respiration rate, blood oxygen rate, and heart rate — certain changes in these indicate that you have stopped breathing in your sleep. Based on the results of the sleep study, your apnea is classified as:

  • Severe obstructive sleep apnea if you have more than 30 episodes of apnea per hour.

  • Moderate obstructive sleep apnea if you have between 15 and 30 episodes of apnea per hour.

  • Mild obstructive sleep apnea if you have between five and 15 episodes of apnea per hour

If you have fewer than five episodes of apnea in an hour, you likely do not have obstructive sleep apnea.

How Can Your Dentist Identify if You Are at Risk for Sleep Apnea

Dentists can identify potential sleep apnea cases by examining the oral cavity and upper airway. They may also utilize tools like questionnaires, scales, and indexes to screen for potential risk factors and symptoms. Additionally, dentists can review dental imaging, like X-rays and CT scans, to assess the structure of the airway and surrounding tissues. If your dentist suspects sleep apnea, they can order a sleep study or refer you to a sleep specialist for further evaluation.

Dental Appliance Therapy Treatment for Sleep Apnea

Dental appliance therapy, also known as oral appliance therapy, is a no-mask option for treating obstructive sleep apnea. It involves a custom-made oral device, also known as a mandibular advancement device or mandibular repositioning appliance, designed to reposition the lower jaw and tongue to help keep the airway open during sleep. Getting a dental appliance for sleep apnea is a great option for people who are unable to tolerate continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy or for those with anatomical factors that make them good candidates for this type of treatment.

Where to Find Sleep Apnea Relief in San Jose

Ignoring your sleep apnea symptoms can significantly impact your overall health, including developing high blood pressure, chronic headaches, and chronic fatigue. Speaking to a qualified dentist for sleep apnea concerns can help you get better sleep and a healthier life.

If you think you may have sleep apnea, Dr. Amir Ghadiri, Dr. Ayeh Ghadiri, and the entire team at Ghadiri Comprehensive Dentistry are here to help. With a deep understanding of the connection between dental health and physical health, Ghadiri Comprehensive Dentistry takes a modern approach to dentistry that includes whole-body wellness — including assessing and treating patients with sleep apnea.

After over 25 years of serving the families of South San Jose, Ghadiri Dentistry is proud of its long reputation as the best comprehensive dentist in the San Jose area.

Ready to get better sleep with mask-free treatment for sleep apnea in San Jose?

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