Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can even become life threatening if it is not treated. Over 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea symptoms, during which toe person stops breathing for 10 seconds or longer while he or she is asleep. Depending on how severe the issue is, a person can have as many as 60 or as few as 10 issues each night. The problem is often treated with a number of healthcare providers including sleep specialists, general physicians, and even surgeons. One of the more surprising professionals who help with the problem is the dentist.
If you think you might suffer from a sleep apnea problem one of the first people you should consult is your dentist. It is best to go in early because sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, irregular heart beats, strokes, or heart attacks. There are three different types of sleep apnea and it is sometimes hard for a person to detect because he or she is asleep. If your partner hears you snore loudly and then stop breathing followed by deep breaths and even choking noises, you might have sleep apnea. If you are tired during the day, can’t sleep at night, or often wake with headaches, you might have it as well.
Dentists can help in a number of ways including with the initial diagnosis. Dentists can also help reposition the tongue and lower jaw, which causes sleep apnea symptoms in some patients. Other treatment recommendations are things like avoiding sleeping on ones back, quitting a smoking habit, losing weight or a number of other options.
Some patients even get a continuous positive airway pressure device that fits over the nose like a small mask. The pressure in the mask keeps the airway open on a more consistent level. Other patients even have to have surgery in order to open their airway.
Because of the issues sleep apnea can lead to in the future, it is best to have the issue taken care of sooner rather than later. It might be surprising that dentists play a large role in discovering and fixing the problem, but it is the truth and the best first line of defense. .