The idea that having trouble with snoring or sleep disturbance means going to a dentist for help can seem a tad perplexing to many folks. There are, in fact, two big reasons (diagnosis and fitting for an appliance) why you'll go to a dentist's office to discuss your sleep apnea concerns.
People suffering from sleep apnea are often far from aware of the fact that the problem is occurring. Even those who have partners sleeping with them may not be alerted to much more than complaints about a bit of snoring, ultimately overlooking much bigger issues that may put them at increased risk of death.
It's frequently a dentist who see the first indicators that a person has sleep apnea. Several of the most common signs are what we think of as fundamentally dental concerns, including dry mouth, a sore jaw, and periodontal disease. Even cavities may be an indication that a person has been sleeping with their mouth open due to sleeping trouble. Some people also engage in teeth grinding behaviors when they're not sleeping well.
The majority of potential solutions for sleep apnea are meant to be fitted around the mouth, and most call for the patient to have some degree of bite down on the appliance. One of the first items often used is a night guard, a mouth guard designed to improve airflow while sleeping. The way one fits in the mouth, however, may increase the risk of grinding down the teeth, and consequently, a dentist's input is absolutely needed during the process of creating one. More aggressive solutions, such as sleep machines like CPAP devices, also needed to be fitted to a patient's mouth.
Sleep disorder dentistry is considered a subset of the dental field. While a general dentist may be able to spot signs of sleep apnea concerns, they're not qualified to handle a full diagnosis or to provide prescriptions for equipment.
The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is the most widely recognized professional organization in the industry. Should you be searching for a professional who handles sleep apnea problems, looking for one locally who's a member of the AADSM is a good starting point. If there are none in your immediate area, a member of the American Dental Association (ADA) can conduct an initial review of your situation. Be clear that you're looking for advice regarding sleep disorders. For more information, you can contact a company like Jerry C Hu DDS Family Dentistry LLC.