Sleep apnea and sleep-disordered breathing are growing health concerns that affect millions of patients, many of whom suffer from the effects long before they are properly diagnosed and treated. Dr. Jacob McLauchlin and Dr. Tyler Bare screen patients for common oral signs and risk factors for sleep apnea during routine dental exams. Early and effective treatment can restore health, improve quality of life and significantly reduce your risk for greater health concerns including heart attack and stroke.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
The collapse of soft tissue at the back of the mouth is the typical cause of a repeated cessation of breathing during sleep, commonly called sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). When this occurs, the body and organs are momentarily deprived of oxygen and patients typically wake up gasping for air or snoring loudly. Over time, this can increase your risk for health problems, sudden heart attack, stroke and detrimentally impact your quality of life.
Common signs that you may have sleep apnea or a sleep disorder can include:
- Feeling tired and groggy when waking or throughout the day
- Irritability, moodiness
- Dry mouth, sore throat and/or persistent bad breath in the morning
There are a range of health concerns that can be related to these symptoms so a discussion with Dr. McLauchlin or Dr. Bare about your concerns is an important first step toward the best treatment.
Am I At Risk for Sleep Apnea?
There is a range of risk factors for sleep apnea, although anyone can develop it at any time in their life. Common risk factors that everyone should be aware of and that our team will screen for can include:
- Large neck circumference
- Male sex
- Over the age of 40
- Overweight, obese
There are others to consider including a family history of sleep disorders and genetic conditions. Dr. McLauchlin or Dr. Bare can discuss your overall physical health, medical history and help you to determine if you are at greater risk for sleep apnea. Seeking a proper medical diagnosis and the right treatment for your needs may just be life-saving.
How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
To obtain a proper diagnosis of sleep apnea, a sleep study is recommended. Sleep studies use monitors that can record apnea events, snoring, sleep cycles and when you awaken during the night.
Our dental care team can work with you to coordinate a sleep study that will be evaluated by a certified sleep physician. This study may be conducted in a lab or the comfort of your home using a take-home kit. The results will provide guidance for the most suitable treatment, one that will minimize health risks, resolve symptoms and improve your overall health and well-being.
How is sleep apnea treated?
The “gold standard” of treatment for sleep apnea is the CPAP. Often recommended for moderate to severe cases, the CPAP uses air pressure to keep the airway open and reduce apnea and snoring. Although highly effective for most patients, it can be bulky and uncomfortable to use. If patients are considered intolerant of the CPAP, has a milder case or wants an alternative treatment option, Dr. McLauchlin and Dr. Bare offer oral appliance therapy.
If oral appliance therapy is considered the right option for your needs, we will work with you to evaluate your airway and design a custom-fit appliance to be worn at night. Your oral appliance will fit much like a mouth guard and will position the jaw to prevent the soft tissue at the back of the throat from collapsing into your airway.
Schedule An Appointment
If you would like to learn more about sleep apnea and your oral health, contact our Nixa, MO dental office to schedule an appointment with Dr. McLauchlin. We welcome new patients and offer personalized dental care focused on the needs of the individual patient. Our goal is to help you enjoy a healthy smile, optimal oral health and your best possible quality of life.