You have probably heard of sleep apnea, but you probably don’t know that Grove Avenue Family & Cosmetic Dentistry offers a full range of treatments for this condition. From oral appliances to treat mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea, to oral surgery for more severe cases, we are experienced and proficient at designing appropriate treatment solutions for each apneic patient we serve.
What Are Some Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Often family practitioners refer clients to dentists for sleep apnea treatment, sometimes after having first referred a patient they are concerned about to a sleep specialist for a sleep study. If a sleep study shows that you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you are among 25 million adults in the United States whose tongues tend to fall backward in their mouths during sleep, partially obstructing their airways. The base of your tongue may be oversized or may rise up during sleep; a “scalloped” appearance may characterize the tongues of sleep apnea sufferers.
A dentist may prescribe a take-home sleep study which will detect these signs, as well as note excessive teeth-grinding upon his/her oral examination. If your sleep study reveals you have OSA, especially severe OSA, your dentist will probably be confirming your bed partner’s hunch you may have it, because the process of breathing obstruction, then breathing resumption — accompanied by snoring, snorting and/or gasping — is stressful to your bed partner, as well as your heart.
Why Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea Dangerous to My Dental/General Health?
Particularly in obese or older-adult patients, but also in average-weight, younger patients, OSA is considered a serious condition with negative health consequences, including but not limited to:
Excessive teeth grinding during sleep, resulting in a sore jaw and cracked, worn-down teeth if untreated.
Daytime fatigue/sleepiness, sometimes leading to workplace or driving accidents.
High blood pressure.
Increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
What Are the Health Rewards of Treating Sleep Apnea?
Treating OSA with CPAP therapy, oral appliances and outpatient or inpatient hospital surgical procedures — depending on the severity of your case — all have resulted in marked improvement in OSA patients’ quality of lives. You will sleep better, have more energy and feel mentally and physically sharper throughout your day.
Treatments Grove Offers for OSA
The first line of treatment recommended by a general practitioner, a sleep specialist or a dentist usually is a continuous positive airway pressure machine, known as “a CPAP” for short. A nasal CPAP is quite effective in ensuring positive airflow through the night, even in nearly-complete cases of airway obstruction; however, patients sometimes have treatment-compliance issues with it.
Your Grove dentist can offer you three surgical outpatient options to correct OSA, performed in the Grove Office under light sedation. These include:
UPPP (uvulo-palato-pharyngoplasty), which is performed in the back of the soft palate and throat.
A radiofrequency probe tightening of the soft palate.
The inpatient surgical procedure our dentists perform is called orthognathic surgery. This procedure, used in more complex cases to reposition the bones of the upper and lower jaws to increase a patient’s airway size, is performed under general anesthesia and requires a 1- to 2-day hospital stay.
Our dentists also provide two sleep apnea devices, which must be worn nightly to keep your airway open consistently and protect your teeth from wear if you grind them while sleeping.
Silent NiteR is flexible, thin and comfortable. It has achieved documented clinical success in mitigating, even preventing, the disruptive and unhealthy effects of snoring and sleep apnea. The Silent Nite appliance moves your jaw into a forward position, increasing space in your airway and reducing air velocity and the soft tissue vibration which causes snoring. You can easily interchange its upper and lower jaw connectors for the most comfortable fit.
The TAPo (Thornton Adjustable Positioner) is designed to combat the constricted or collapsed airway which causes snoring and other undesirable health consequences in OSA patients, using the same principles upon which cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is based. It holds your jaw in the forward position so it doesn’t fall open in during the night, compromising your airway. The TAP is custom-made and patient-adjustable.
If you think you or your partner may be a candidate for sleep apnea treatment at Grove, please take a moment to take our “Sleep Apnea Quiz” on our Treatment Menu’s Sleep Apnea page and fill out our one-minute “Request an Appointment for Sleep Apnea” form. You are also more than welcome to contact us at Grove Avenue Family & Cosmetic Dentistry at (804) 285-1378.