Sleep Apnea: Can My Orthodontist Help?

sleep apneaAt Leone & Vaughn Orthodontics our goal is to help you maintain good oral health and a spectacular smile. But, did you know that our orthodontists can also help you get relief from the debilitating effects of sleep apnea?

Consider this FAQ about sleep apnea and the role your orthodontist can play in treating it.


Question #1: What is sleep apnea?

Answer:The word apnea literally means “ without breath.” Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening sleeping disorder, in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep, most commonly caused by an obstruction of the airway passage. These breathing pauses last a few seconds and result in an inadequate intake of oxygen. This can lead to frequent choking, gasping, frequent awakenings, and loud snoring.

Question #2: How common is sleep apnea?

Answer: It is more prevalent than most people think, and the number of cases is increasing. Reports reveal that sleep apnea affects more than 18 million people in the U.S.A alone. That’s a surprising 1 out of every 15 Americans! Many having the condition have gone undiagnosed. Sleep apnea is more common among men than women. It’s estimated that 75% of people who snore have sleep apnea.

Question #3: What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Answer: Some symptoms include:

  • Waking up gasping for air
  • Chronic snoring
  • Morning headaches and dry mouth
  • Irritability
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Reduced libido
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things

These side-effects were highlighted in new behind-the-scenes details that emerged about Rick Perry’s presidential campaign in late 2011, one that had a promising start, but faded with a number of surprising gaffes and misstatements. Reports reveal that Perry discovered he was suffering from sleep apnea during his White House bid, a disorder that may have perhaps gone undetected for years.

Question #4: What makes sleep apnea dangerous?

Answer: Sleep apnea can lead to fragmented sleep and lower than normal blood oxygen levels. Left untreated, sleep apnea can have serious consequences, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and mood disorders.

Question #5: Can my dentist help me treat my sleep apnea?

Answer: For adults, orthodontists are often at the front line for intervention. We work closely with sleep medicine doctors to identify and diagnose the obstructive episodes. If a sleep disorder is suspected, you will be referred to a sleep clinic, which will monitor your nighttime sleep patterns through special testing. Once diagnosed, our doctors will review your case with the sleep specialist and determine the best course of treatment. It’s important to understand that orthodontists are not making a definitive diagnosis, but we are intervening to properly align the jaws and improve airflow.

Contact us today to learn more about our professional sleep apnea services and how you can finally start reaping the benefits of a good night’s sleep.


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