Friday, October 16, 2009

Dental Sleep Medicine: The Basics Part I

18 million – This is the number of Americans who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

People with OSA stop breathing for 10 to 30 seconds, sometimes for one minute or longer. This pause in breathing can happen hundreds of times a night, often causing excessive daytime sleepiness.

If you’ve never heard of dental sleep medicine (DSM), it is a focus of dentistry that addresses OSA.

DSM is the management of sleep-related breathing disorders (SBD), such as snoring and OSA, with Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) and upper airway surgery.

OAT involves the fitting and adjustment of oral appliances (OAs), which look like mouth guards and are worn at night. These devices reposition the lower jaw and tongue forward to keep an open airway.

OAT should be performed by qualified dentists. Surgery can also treat SBD and should be done by qualified surgeons.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is the standard treatment therapy for OSA. But 25 to 50 percent of patients do not tolerate this option. OAT is a safe and effective alternative to CPAP.

SleepEducation has a great blog post on OSA treatments.

OSA is a serious medical condition and must be diagnosed by a physician. Diagnosis is based on the results of an overnight
sleep study.

It is important to treat OSA. If a person does not treat their OSA, they may be at risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, obesity and driving accidents.

Signs of OSA include snoring loudly and making choking, gasping or snorting sounds during sleep. Not surprisingly, an OSA patient’s spouse is often the one who notices that there is a problem.

Find-a-Dentist in your area who practices DSM!

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.