This Is Why You Should See a Sleep Apnea Dentist in Los Angeles

Apr 11, 2022

Over 100 million people worldwide suffer from sleep apnea. But how many of these people have considered receiving treatment from…their dentist? Dentists often are not the first providers patients think about when considering treatment for their sleep apnea. Why go see a dentist who specializes in teeth when you have a sleeping problem?

In reality, however, seeing a dentist for your sleep apnea makes a lot of sense. In this article, we will walk you through everything you need to know about why you should see a sleep apnea dentist if you have been diagnosed with OSA.

Why Do Dentists Treat Sleep Apnea in the First Place?

As many educated patients are aware, obstructive sleep apnea can be a dangerous condition. It can lead to serious health conditions that can even predispose to fatal events.

But why would a dentist treat sleep apnea? Many people tend to associate dentists with only teeth, but these providers actually see the big picture when they look inside your mouth. This includes the entirety of oral health issues.

Even though your dentist primarily looks at your teeth during a visit, they are also familiar with other behavioral and medical conditions within the oral cavity.

Just by looking into your mouth briefly, dentists can identify whether or not you smoke cigarettes, what side of the body you sleep on, and if there are signs of an eating disorder. Many people are unaware that their dentist is trained to recognize these signs in addition to dental pathology.

Because dentists are trained in these other areas, they make the list of providers that could potentially treat sleep apnea. Most people see their dentists more frequently than any other doctor, so it makes sense to have a dentist in the driver’s seat for your sleep apnea treatment.

How Do Dentists Diagnose Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Not every dentist is highly trained to recognize obstructive sleep apnea every time they see it. However, most dentists should be able to identify signs of obstructive sleep apnea during a physical examination.

One of the things that a dentist may notice is bruxism. This is teeth grinding that often occurs at night when you sleep. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you may also be predisposed to an increased number of cavities.

Once a dentist recognizes the signs, they will refer you to a sleep center to have a sleep study performed. Ultimately, you need to have a sleep study performed to receive a formal diagnosis.

The dentist can be a fantastic starting point for helping you to identify other healthcare professionals such as internal medicine physicians and sleep specialists to help you in your OSA treatment.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Symptoms

When a dentist becomes concerned about potential sleep apnea based on signs on your general dental exam, they may ask you if you have been experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Loud or bothersome snoring
  • Constant or excessive daytime fatigue
  • Pauses during breathing or gasping for air while sleeping
  • Frequent wake-ups throughout the night
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom while sleeping

Each of these is a common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. If you have been noticing any of these symptoms recently, it makes sense to go see your dentist or doctor to ask if you would be a candidate for further testing.

Instead of going to a sleep center, your dentist may suggest that you do a take-home sleep study in the comfort of your own home. These are convenient tests that can be performed in a single night. They may in fact be more accurate in diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea because you are more likely to have a representative night sleep in your own bed.

What Treatment Options Will My Dentist Provide?

It’s one thing to obtain a diagnosis of OSA. It’s another to identify the best treatment option for you.

A conservative and reasonable dentist will acknowledge that CPAP machines are the most common form of treatment for OSA. These are prescribed by physicians, and you may need a second opinion to obtain one.

However, many people prefer not to use CPAP machines due to their bulky size and other discomforts from the mask. Some people claim that the mask can trigger claustrophobia and make it more difficult to sleep.

There are other options, fortunately. Dentists who treat sleep apnea will be able to provide you with oral appliances like mouth guards, which are similar to those you may have known from playing sports growing up.

There are also specialized anti-bruxism mouth guards. Sleep apnea mouth guards are designed specifically to help with snoring and to keep the airway open.

Other types of oral devices may shift your lower jaw forward slightly to improve airflow to the lungs. This may solve your problem entirely and prevent you from waking up.

Another type of oral appliance keeps your tongue in place to prevent it from sliding into the throat to create an obstruction.

Finding a Sleep Apnea Dentist Near You

Your dentist can be a primary partner in helping you identify and treat your sleep apnea. If you are a sleep apnea patient who has difficulty with your CPAP machine, your dentist may be able to help.

If you’re looking for the best sleep apnea dentist in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles, look no further. At Brentwood Dental Spa, we provide top-tier sleep apnea oral appliances to help our patients wake up feeling fresh.

Please contact us if you would like to set up an appointment with one of our providers.

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