A decent sleep! Who doesn't love that? But do people really get to sleep properly? If not, then you need to visit a dentist now. He might help you!
Do you know what is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)?
Many people complain that they cannot sleep properly. They are turning into insomniacs or that they wake up in the middle of the night or they begin their day with a pounding headache or have trouble concentrating at work and feel fatigued early in the morning. As per a study – 93 per cent of Indians are sleep deprived. People overlook the symptoms and blame their busy lives, irregular routine and long working hours to be the cause of these problems. But the answer to all these complains might lie in a visit to the Dentist!
Your dentist may ask you about your sleeping pattern or behaviour on the visit which may surprise you. This is because you know your dentist as someone who is concerned only about cavities and scaling. A dentist is more than just tooth fairy and many of them are trained in sleep medicine. If the dentist has even a minute doubt, they will ask questions as to what their patients are suffering from. Your mouth, jaw, and neck may have tell-tale signs that point to problems related to sleep.
If someone complains about snoring, having dry mouth, jaw pain, morning headache, experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, dozing off while driving, grinding teeth or feeling lethargic then there are chances that one is suffering from “Obstructive Sleep Apnoea'.
It is a sleep disorder in which a person stops breathing periodically during the night due to a variety of reasons. These pauses last for about 10 seconds and are followed by snorts, gasps and choking sounds. OSA is characterized by disordered breathing during sleep, resulting in sleep fragmentation and a lower self-reported quality of life.
Sleep Apnoea can cause attention deficit, moodiness, drowsiness, headaches, fatigue, dementia, memory loss, hypertension, stroke and heart attack. In addition, there are added complications to pre-existing medical problems, like increased insulin resistance, hormonal disruption, abnormal heart rhythms& depression.
These symptoms need to be handled in time and require a proper treatment plan.
In the first stage, the Dentist may advise you to make changes in your daily routine and your lifestyle such as the switch in your sleeping position, losing weight and quitting smoking.
Your dentist may also ask you to wear a dental appliance when you are asleep. An appliance is like a mouth guard, called Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) which is worn overnight. MADs help throat muscles from collapsing back into the airway and allows for normal breathing. They do so by pushing the lower jaw and tongue slightly forward.
Another device which is used in the treatment process is a Tongue Retainer. These are used by the patients who cannot have their jaw repositioned forward. Similar to MAD, they are slightly different in a way that they fit around the tongue using a suction concept.
In severe stage, which requires a little aggressive management such as the use of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure system (CPAP) which will supply air through a small mask with a constant pressure or would suggest you a surgery. The gold standard treatment for OSA is to pneumatically splint open the upper airway during sleep using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).
Many oral devices are available in the market but one needs to be sure that they consult a dentist before using those devices. For instance, the oral device may cure your snoring problem but might not cure the Sleep Apnoea and may lead to other health complications down the lane. They should be custom fitted as it suits the need of the patient.
According to a research, nearly one-fourth to one-third of the human life is spent sleeping so why to risk a part of your life by neglecting the symptoms which can lead to serious health hazards. Next time you come across these symptoms or suffer from sleep-disordered breathing, don't neglect instead visit your dentist. Your dentist can guide you on the right path for a better sleep.
By Dr. Vimal Arora, Clove Dental