Sleep disorders can be more than just an interrupted night’s sleep- they can also compromise overall health and put sufferers at increased risk for a variety of concerns including cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Dental sleep medicine is a concentration of Dr. Melvin Benson, enabling him to diagnose and treat sleep related disorders, including snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Thanks to his training at the world-renowned Dawson Academy, Dr. Benson is able to implement a comprehensive approach to treatment, addressing the causes of the condition as well as the symptoms.
Understanding Sleep Apnea
The first step in seeking treatment for sleep apnea is receiving a diagnosis. During an overnight study, a sleep specialist will closely monitor your sleep and breathing patterns. Dr. Benson will then evaluate this data to determine the cause(s) of your sleep apnea symptoms.
Patients who suffer with OSA stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, due to a blockage of the airway usually caused when the soft tissue in the back of the mouth collapses.
Many of our patients with obstructive sleep apnea also clench and grind their teeth – classic symptoms of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. This can cause soreness or pain in the jaw, and worn, cracked teeth. Dr. Benson specializes in the treatment for TMJ disorders, and some sleep apnea treatments are also effective at treating teeth grinding and clenching.
Central sleep apnea occurs when the nervous system is unable to send clear messages to the body, prompting proper breathing. Dr. Benson will recommend you to a specialist if your symptoms indicate that you suffer from central sleep apnea.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- Feeling tired even after a full night’s rest
- Physical fatigue
- Waking in the night gasping for air
- Restlessness in bed
- Forgetfulness or trouble concentrating
Diagnosis and treatment is important in order to reduce the risk of additional health problems and to restore a better quality of life.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
Appropriate treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is dependent on a patient’s lifestyle, symptoms, and the severity of their condition. For patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea, lifestyle changes may be recommended, including:
- Quitting smoking
- Quitting or reducing consumption of alcohol, especially before bedtime
- Losing weight
- Changing sleeping position
In many cases, a custom oral appliance may provide relief from symptoms and prevent possible health complications from sleep apnea. Oral appliance therapy can be very effective for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea. They are small, discreet and comfortable to wear and therefore more likely to be worn by the patient. They work by repositioning the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate or uvula. The lower jaw and tongue will become more stabilized and will help keep your airway open.
For patients with more severe sleep apnea, mechanical treatment methods or surgery may be necessary. Dr. Benson may recommend a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, a device that delivers oxygen-rich air through the mouth or nose during sleep. A crooked bite or misaligned jaw can also contribute to airway obstruction.