Sleep Apnea and the role of dentistry
Sleep Apnea is a potentially serious sleeping disorder which involves multiple episodes of abrupt termination or even a significant reduction of airflow during sleep.Sleep Apnea has further roughly been bifurcated into:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea- Hypopnea also commonly referred to as Obstructive Sleep Apnea. It is the most common type of sleep-disordered breathing and is characterized by repetitive episodes of the collapse of the upper airway during sleep or in layman’s terms,on the relaxation of throat muscles
Central Sleep Apnea- The reason for the occurrence of Central Sleep Apnea is when the brain momentarily stops sending signals to the muscles that control breathing, for example when the part of the brain called Brainstem starts dysfunctioning (Brainstem is responsible for controlling breathing).
There’s another type called Complex Sleep Apnea syndrome but that involves a combination of both Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea.
Further in the article we will be focusing on Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
as it is the most commonly occurring type of sleep Apnea.
The symptoms and risks involving Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
It is an obvious fact that Obstructive Sleep Apnea is known to reduce the quality of life as well as raise the risk of certain major medical conditions such as strokes, Hypertension, Type II Diabetes and Cardiac Arrests.It has been observed that OSA reduces as much as 8-10 years of a patient’s life expectancy.
The archetypal symptoms of OSA are –
- Loud snoring
- Gasping for air while sleep
- Waking up with a dry mouth
- Morning Fatigue
- Being unable to concentrate
- Episodes in which one stops breathing during sleep
- High blood Pressure
- GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease )
- Night Sweats
Dentistry and Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
The typical treatment for OSA at present is CPAP which is ‘Continuous Positive Airway Pressure’, although it has been observed that, all the OSA patients do not abide by or have a liking for CPAP.
This is where the role of a dental professional comes in play. Oral Appliances or Mouth guards can be a lifesaver for the ones that do not comply with CPAP.These things are useful for the patients that have mild to moderate OSA.Some recent studies show insertion of oral devices or mouth Guards are considered to be the most effective treatment.
How can a dentist help a person with OSA?
Post a diagnosis session with a sleep therapist, a qualified dentist can help a patient with the range of options regarding the treatments and devices offered. A professional who has a dental sleep practice assesses the patient’s mouth and recommends a suitable oral device and treatment to the patient. The dentist works closely with the patient assessing each and every change and progress , making the life of a person with OSA way easier.
How can one diversify into dental sleep practice?
Fresh Graduate, General dentist, Post Graduate or a Dental Professional with any other specialization is eligible to further step into the dental sleep industry.There are a number of courses listed online where you can see more about how to advance in this field.Given below are a few links:
https://www.aadsm.org/education.php#:~:text=required%20to%20purchase [AMERICAN ACADEMY OF DENTAL SLEEP MEDICINE]
https://etc.ida.org.in/Common/ProgrammeDetails/4642 [Education Training Centre- Dental speciality courses]
These are just a few. Although, there are numerous listed online.
OSA is one of the most common breathing disorders and is known to reduce the quality of life although dentistry has been of tremendous help to the people suffering from OSA. The oral appliances and mouth guards come to a rescue as an easier and effective solution. Oral appliances are known to ease the symptoms, are comparatively inexpensive when compared to CPAP, do not carry the risks involved in a Sleep Apnea related surgery and have shown to improve Sleep Apnea.