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What Is The Role Of a Dentist In Treating OSA?

If your dentist is not asking about your sleep, they should. Dentistry is not just about checking for cavities. Dentists can actually play a big role in helping people with OSA, a sleep problem. But what is the role of a dentist in treating OSA?

Dentists play a crucial role in treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) by providing specialized oral appliances. These devices adjust the position of the jaw and tongue to keep the airway open during sleep, effectively reducing OSA symptoms and improving sleep quality and overall health.

Let’s dive into how dentists contribute to treating OSA and improving the lives of those affected by it.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

Dentists play a key role in the early detection of OSA. They work closely with other health experts to find and treat this sleep disorder. Here’s how dentists help diagnose sleep apnea:

Sleep Study And Diagnosis

A sleep study, or polysomnography, is often necessary to confirm a diagnosis of sleep apnea. Dentists can spot the signs of OSA during regular check-ups and recommend a sleep study if they suspect a problem.

This test measures your breathing, heart rate, and other body functions while you sleep. It helps doctors see exactly what happens when you’re resting.

Identifying Risk Factors

Dentists are skilled at identifying risk factors for sleep apnea. They examine the size of the airway, check for large tonsils, and note other features like the position of the jaw and tongue.

When The airway looks narrow during a dental exam, your dentist can think you are at risk for OSA.

Collaboration With Sleep Specialists

After identifying potential OSA, dentists often work with sleep specialists. These experts help confirm the diagnosis and create a treatment plan. Your dentist may send your sleep study results to a specialist and discuss the best steps. Working together, they ensure that you get the most effective care.

Dental Devices For Sleep Apnea

Dentists can provide special devices that help keep the airway open during sleep. These tools are important for people who struggle with this sleep disorder. Let’s explore the types of dental devices used.

Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs)

Mandibular Advancement Devices, or MADs, are one of OSA’s most common dental tools. They work by moving the lower jaw slightly forward, a small change that can make a big difference.

It helps open up the space behind the tongue and reduces the risk of the airway closing during sleep. This means better breathing and less snoring.

Tongue Retaining Appliances (TRAs)

Tongue Retaining Appliances (TRAs) are another type of device that dentists can suggest. These devices work by holding the tongue in a forward position during sleep.

By doing this, the TRAs prevent the tongue from blocking the airway. It’s a simple way to help keep the air open and make breathing easier.

Custom-Fitted Oral Appliances

The best part about these dental devices is their custom design. Dentists create tailor-made oral appliances that fit perfectly in your mouth, ensuring comfort and effectiveness. This personalized approach helps ensure the device is comfortable, allowing for better sleep without discomfort.

Recently, Vivos Therapeutics’ C.A.R.E. devices received the first ever FDA 510(k) clearance for oral device treatment of moderate and severe OSA in adults 18 years of age and older, along with positive airway pressure (PAP) devices and/or myofunctional therapy, as needed. This approval is a big step. It shows the value and power of oral appliance therapy, which treats moderate and severe cases of OSA.

Dental Treatment Process

There are different types of dental treatment processes available to treat OSA. Let’s explore 3 treatment processes.

Dental Examination And Assessment

The first step is a detailed dental exam. The dentist examines your teeth, jaw, and throat to determine whether any issues can contribute to OSA.

They also ask about your sleep habits and any problems you can have. This helps them understand how severe your OSA can be and what treatment could help.

Treatment Planning And Appliance Selection

Next, the dentist develops a treatment plan. They often recommend a special device that you wear in your mouth at night.

This device can help keep your airway open while you sleep. Different types of devices are available, and the dentist will help you choose the one that best suits your specific needs.

Appliance Fitting And Adjustments

After selecting the right appliance, the dentist will fit it to your mouth. This usually means taking molds of your teeth so the device fits perfectly.

Once you start using the appliance, you should visit the dentist a few more times to adjust it. These adjustments make sure the device is as comfortable and effective as possible.

Benefits Of Dental Treatment

Dental treatments for OSA have many benefits. They help improve not just your sleep but also your health. Here’s how they make a difference:

Improving Breathing And Sleep Quality

Dental devices designed to treat OSA work by adjusting the position of your jaw or tongue during sleep. This adjustment keeps your airway open, allowing more air into your lungs.

Better airflow stops pauses in your breathing, known as apneas, helping you enjoy a deeper, more restful sleep. People who use these devices often wake up feeling more refreshed.

Reducing Snoring And Sleep Disruptions

Snoring is a common symptom of OSA and a major disturbance in sleep. Dental treatments reduce snoring by keeping the airway open.

This not only makes for quieter nights but also prevents the frequent waking that snoring can cause. When you snore less, you and anyone else sleeping nearby will have fewer disruptions and better sleep quality.

Enhancing Overall Health And Well-Being

Dental treatments for OSA also boost overall health by improving sleep. Better sleep lowers stress, improves mood, and increases energy levels during the day.

It can also reduce the risk of serious health problems. They are linked to poor sleep, like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. When you breathe better at night, your body can heal and renew itself more effectively.

Managing Treatment Effectiveness

When dentists treat someone with OSA, they do more than just give them an appliance to wear at night. They play a key role in ensuring the treatment works well over time. Here’s how dentists manage the effectiveness of OSA treatment:

Regular Follow-Up And Monitoring

After a dentist provides an oral appliance for OSA, they will ask the patient to return for regular visits. During these visits, the dentist checks if the appliance fits well and if it’s helping the patient breathe better during sleep. These check-ups help catch any problems early.

Adjustments And Appliance Maintenance

Sometimes, an oral appliance needs a little tweaking to work best. Dentists adjust the appliance to ensure it’s as comfortable and effective as possible. They also teach patients how to care for their appliances, like how to clean it and when to bring them in for repairs.

Collaboration With Sleep Professionals

Dentists often collaborate with sleep doctors to treat OSA. This team approach covers all aspects of the patient’s sleep health.

The sleep doctor may adjust the patient’s treatment based on the dentist’s feedback and vice versa. This collaboration helps ensure the best possible outcome for the patient.

Conclusion: What Is The Role Of A Dentist In Treating OSA?

Dentists play a key role in treating OSA. They can spot early signs of OSA during regular check-ups and provide special devices that fit in the mouth to help keep the airway open at night.

This helps patients breathe better and sleep more soundly. By working closely with other healthcare providers, dentists help ensure patients receive the best care possible for their sleep issues. Visiting your dentist is a good step towards better sleep and health if you have OSA.

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