Q: Is dental sleep medicine the same as sleep dentistry?
A: No. It’s a relatively new branch of dentistry that treats sleep apnea and other sleep-related breathing problems like snoring.
Dental sedation or sleep dentistry is used by dentists and oral surgeons to sedate a patient during dental treatment.
Q: What is sleep apnea?
A: Sleep apnea is a malady where you have frequent, intermittent delays in breathing while sleeping. These delays can last for up to 60 seconds. They are caused by soft tissue in the back of the throat that relaxes and cuts off the airway.
There are three different types of sleep apnea. They are categorized by the cause of the lapses in breathing.
- Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where your throat muscles relax.
- Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to control your breathing.
- The final type is called complex sleep apnea syndrome. This type occurs when someone has a combination of the two previously listed.
Q: How do you know if you have sleep apnea?
A: Sleep apnea must be diagnosed by a medical doctor. A medical doctor performs (or prescribes) a sleep study. To undergo a sleep study, the patient spends the night in a sleep clinic. Medical professionals observe the patient sleeply and perform medical tests to determine if the patient has sleep apnea or another sleep disorder.
Q: What kinds of doctors treat sleep apnea?
A: Many different types of medical professionals treat sleep apnea, including the following:
A sleep doctor is a health professional specialist who addresses issues relating to sleep, sleep disorders, and sleep health. A sleep doctor may be a sleep physician or a sleep psychologist. Each type of sleep specialist deals with different aspects of sleep health. Most sleep physicians have extra training in sleep medicine. Fellowship training programs exist that offer additional training after residency training. Many sleep physicians are board-certified by the American Board of Sleep Medicine or a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties. Sleep physicians may have backgrounds in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, and otorhinolaryngology (ENT). American Sleep Association
Pulmonologists–Physicians who specialize in the respiratory system
Otolaryngologist or ENTs–Specialists on the ears, nose, and throat.
Neurologists–A specialist on the brain and nervous system.
Sleep medicine dentists–Dentists who provide treatment for obstructive sleep apnea using customized oral appliances.
Q: What are the most common symptoms of sleep apnea?
A: The following symptoms can indicate a person has sleep apnea or another sleep disorder:
- Feeling tired during the day
- Sleep deprivation
- Excessive snoring
- Episodes of not breathing during the night
- Waking up gasping during the night
- Mouth breathing
- Dry mouth or throat
- Frequent headaches
Q: How does sleep apnea affect a person’s health?
A: Sleep apnea risks a person’s health in multiple ways. When breathing stops intermittently throughout the night, the brain is not getting enough oxygen. This hinders vital physical processes.
It’s very serious! Sleep apnea increases the risk for heart problems, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. Having sleep apnea also puts a person at a higher risk of an accident at work, while driving, or performing daily, household tasks.
Q: How does a sleep apnea dentist treat sleep apnea?
A: Dentists use oral appliance therapy to treat obstructive sleep apnea. Patients wear a custom-fitted removable oral appliance at night. The appliance fits somewhat like a sports mouthguard. The dentist monitors the patient’s treatment.
Q: How does an oral appliance work?
A: An oral appliance restricts the airway from collapsing. It either holds the tongue or jaw in a forward position.
Q: Are there other treatments for sleep apnea?
A: Yes. The most common treatment is CPAP (Continous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy.
Q: Does an oral appliance work as well as CPAP?
A: It depends on the severity of the condition and other factors specific to the patient. Many patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea benefit from OAT.
Q: What are the advantages of OAT over CPAP?
A: Some men and women find the device more comfortable. It’s smaller and easier to clean than a CPAP system. Patients who suffer from claustrophobia often choose OAT. Patients who move around a lot when they sleep can get twisted up in the CPAP tube. And a small, portable device is easier to travel with.
Q: Where can I get more details about sleep apnea?
A: Call Houston Sleep Solutions at 281-485-4829. We would love to provide A’s for all of your Q’s!
Contact Houston Sleep Solutions:
Location (Tap to open in Google Maps):