Friday, April 27, 2012

Dental Sleep Medicine Offers Effective Alternatives to CPAP

An increasing number of dentists are becoming qualified in the specialized field of dental sleep medicine, which offers custom oral appliances as a comfortable and effective alternative to traditional continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices for the treatment of sleep apnea.

Although CPAP machines have proven capable of maintaining open airways as patients sleep, many people who suffer from sleep apnea find the masks uncomfortable and confining, and do not use the devices long-term. Oral appliances can often be a viable solution for those with sleep apnea who can’t tolerate CPAP.

Dental sleep medicine entails the assessment of sleep apnea symptoms, the selection of an appropriate oral appliance, the custom design and fitting of the device, and follow-up care. Sleep apnea oral appliances are custom-made to conform comfortably to your individual bite and are worn during sleep to maintain an unobstructed airway.

Similar in appearance to sports mouthguards, oral appliances keep your tongue in a forward position and help maintain proper jaw position as you sleep. Maintaining an open airflow as you sleep can eliminate snoring and other symptoms of sleep apnea.

Because there are a number of sleep apnea oral appliances on the market, only a thorough exam with a qualified sleep dentist can determine the best treatment option for you. If necessary, your dentist may collaborate with a sleep study center.

If you experience symptoms of sleep apnea, please contact to locate a qualified sleep dentist near you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Truck Drivers face High Rates of Sleep Apnea, Possible New Sleep Apnea Regulations

Coinciding with the news that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is seeking to adopt new sleep apnea recommendations for drivers of tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles is a study from Australian researchers that indicates 41 percent of truck drivers suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

In February, the FMCSA received proposals from two advisory bodies for updating its regulations regarding drivers who suffer from sleep apnea. One of the recommendations is using a body mass index of 35 or higher along with an apnea hypopnea index of 20 or greater (which includes a range from moderate to severe sleep apnea) as the catalyst for sleep apnea testing and treatment.

The proposal from one of the FMCSA’s medical advisory panels called for treatment with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, but not the use of dental sleep medicine, which includes custom oral appliances. While CPAP can be an effective treatment for sleep apnea, many patients discontinue its use because the devices are cumbersome and require wearing a mask while sleeping.

Although oral appliances have proven effective in treating many instances of sleep apnea and have a higher rate of continued use among patients, they were not included in the recommendations of the advisory panels. The FMCSA is currently reviewing the proposed changes.

Meanwhile, an Australian study of more than 500 long-distance semi-truck drivers found that 41 percent suffered from OSA. Only about 4 percent, however, reported that they had been diagnosed with a sleep disorder prior to the study.

The study, the results of which were published in the April issue of the journal Sleep, also found that significant numbers of truckers shared traits indicating a high risk for sleep apnea. Researchers found that 49 percent of truck drivers in the study smoke cigarettes, 36 percent are overweight and 50 percent are obese.

If you suffer from symptoms of sleep apnea, an experienced dentist may be able to help. Please contact to locate a qualified sleep dentist near you.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dental Sleep Medicine Treatment may Reduce Risk for Depression and Other Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Because the various forms of sleep apnea, including the potentially deadly obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), prevent sufferers from getting the restful continuous sleep needed to function properly during their waking hours, it has long been suspected that sleep apnea contributes to depression.

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strengthens that link. The study focused on nearly 10,000 adults and indicated that the likelihood of depression increased the more participants reported sleeping interruptions such as gasping and stopping breathing.

Approximately 6 percent of men and 3 percent of women in the study had been previously diagnosed with OSA. Other participants were not diagnosed with sleep apnea, but reported sleep apnea symptoms including snorting, gasping and daytime fatigue.

While previous studies have established a connection between insomnia and depression, the CDC study is the first to examine the bond between sleep apnea and depression. The CDC findings were published in the April issue of the journal Sleep.

Depression is just one of the potential complications of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea, particularly OSA, can also increase your risk for hypertension, heart attack and stroke.

Fortunately, sleep apnea is treatable. There are a number of comfortable, effective sleep apnea treatments, including dental sleep medicine options which employ custom oral appliances to maintain an open airway.

If you suffer from the symptoms of sleep apnea, please contact to locate a qualified sleep dentist near you.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Study Strengthens Link between Sleep Apnea, Depression

A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms the long-held theory that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and other sleep disorders are associated with depression.

As part of an ongoing study, the CDC surveyed 9,714 men and women. About 6 percent of the men and 3 percent of the women who participated in the study reported having been diagnosed with OSA. Other participants had not been diagnosed with sleep apnea, but reported symptoms such as snoring, gasping for air and snorting during sleep.

Although men seem at greater risk for developing OSA than women, the study indicates that women face a higher risk for experiencing depression. Among those diagnosed with OSA, depression was more than twice as frequent among men and more than five times as common among women compared to those who did not suffer from OSA.

However, signs of depression were not linked to OSA alone. Researchers found that people whose partners reported they snored or stopped breathing occasionally during sleep were also more likely to show symptoms of depression.

The research did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship between sleep disorders and depression. The results of the study appear in the April issue of the journal Sleep.

If you suffer from sleep apnea symptoms, a qualified dentist may be able to diagnose the source of your condition and recommend an effective treatment. Please contact to locate an experienced sleep disorder dentist near you.