More than 40 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder, and 20 million of them from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Despite the high prevalence of patients already diagnosed with OSA, more than 80 million Americans remain undiagnosed, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. The pauses in breathing can last from a few seconds to minutes and may occur 30 times or more an hour. After the pause, normal breathing starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound. A chronic condition that disrupts your sleep, sleep apnea causes you to get less of the quality deep sleep you need, resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness.
Health Risks of Sleep Disorders
You may not even realize you have OSA, but it’s important to find out. That’s because OSA and other sleep disorders can also lead to other, more serious health problems. For example, several recent studies show that getting less sleep can put you at a much higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, heart problems and stroke. Experts have said that not getting enough sleep is worse for the human body than smoking, in terms of shortened life span.
Your Dentist Can Help with Sleep Disorders
As dentists, Hall and Butterfield Family Dentistry is uniquely positioned to help diagnose and treat common sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, snoring and other oral and nasal airway issues that affect your ability to get the proper amount of rest. Most of our adult patients see us more regularly than their primary care doctor, so there are more opportunities for us to identify sleep disorder risks, study sleep problems and evaluate appropriate treatment options. And, you don’t need dental insurance to cover it — it is covered by your medical insurance.
Tests and Treatments for Sleep Disorders
Most OSA, snoring and other oral and nasal airway issues that cause sleep disorders can be traced to a blockage of some sort. Hall and Butterfield Family Dentistry can locate the source of that blockage and document the severity of your sleep disorder using advanced technology in our offices.
- Rhinometer: Sound waves are sent up the nasal passageway and they are reflected back out in such a way that allows us to clearly identify the location and severity of any obstruction in the airway. The test is completely non-invasive and takes 30 seconds to complete.
- Pharyngometer: Allows us to quickly and easily measure a patient’s pharyngeal airway size and stability. Studies have shown a clear relationship between the existence of OSA and a narrow, collapsible, airway. The test is minimally invasive and takes 2-5 minutes to complete.
- Home sleep study: We prescribe a convenient take home device, which we have available in the office. You wear it that evening while you sleep and return it to our office the next day. Results will be available usually within 24 hours. Based on the results, we can explore treatment options.
- Snore guard: Snore guards are designed to keep the mandible (jaw) and/or tongue in a forward position that allows the airway to remain open. We adjust your mandibular settings and then use the pharyngometer to measure the changes/progress. This allows us to find the optimal place for your jaw and customize a snore guard for you.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): Using air pressure, CPAP prevents the patient’s throat from collapsing during sleep, which eliminates snoring, gasping and choking during the night. The devices provide quiet white noise and there are a number of mask options to achieve maximum fit and comfort. Patient compliance is critical, however — CPAP is extremely effective, but only when it is worn and used properly.
Important Information to Know
- Hall and Butterfield Family Dentistry offers a free consultation to explore your options for sleep disorders tests and treatments.
- Medical insurance covers sleep disorders dentistry. Hall and Butterfield Family Dentistry will get prior approval from your insurance company.
- Hall and Butterfield Family Dentistry will collaborate with your physician to review test results and treatment plans.
- Hall and Butterfield Family Dentistry will refer you to an ear, nose and throat physician (ENT) or sleep disorders specialist if test results indicate a treatment protocol beyond our scope.