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Can my dentist help me get a diagnosis of sleep apnea?

In this post, our Delta and Surrey dentists discuss whether we can help you get diagnosed with sleep apnea, and how we can help you find answers to your questions.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep-related breathing disorder that causes a person to pause breathing while they are asleep. They may also experience shallow breathing. These breaks in breathing can happen as often as 30 times (or more) each night and may last anywhere from several seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing resumes after each pause, often with a choking sound or loud snort. 

Having breathing issues while you sleep can significantly impact your general physical health, as you might imagine. Sleep apnea sufferers commonly experienced heart attack, diabetes, stroke and increased risk of high blood pressure. It may also boost your risk of being involved in a driving or workplace-related accident or the likelihood that you'll experience an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). 

Why does it sometimes take so long for sleep apnea to be diagnosed?

While sleep apnea is a serious medical condition and the symptoms described above are concerning, it's possible for the condition to go undiagnosed for some time as your doctor will be unable to detect it with a blood test or during a regular checkup. If bed partners or family members have mentioned that you tend to snore loudly or stop breathing while you sleep, we recommend booking a consultation with our team to discuss potential next steps. 

When it comes to identifying potential symptoms of sleep apnea in our patients, we are often the first line of defense and can help you decide what may need to happen next based on our assessment. 

Can my dentist help diagnose my sleep apnea?

If you suspect you may be experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea, speak to your dentist during your next appointment. We may be able to recommend next steps, such as making an appointment with your doctor. Depending on your needs and whether you have mild sleep apnea or a more severe form of the disorder, you may have some options. 

Mild Sleep Apnea 

Sometimes, mild or moderate sleep apnea can be treated with non-invasive, simple options such as weight loss management (since being overweight is sometimes a primary cause of sleep apnea) or oral appliances. 

Severe Sleep Apnea 

Patients who suffer from severe sleep apnea may require CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). The most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea uses air pressure to keep their airway from closing while you sleep. There may also be other forms of therapy to help people who either cannot use or are unable to achieve consistent results with CPAP treatment. 

Have questions for your dentist about sleep apnea?  Please contact our Delta and Surrey dentists to book a consultation.