What do you say to patients who have concerns about dental x-rays?
Sleep apnea is a condition that happens while someone is sleeping and they either completely stop breathing or partially stop breathing repeatedly through the night. It is a significant problem that affects many people. We used to think of sleep apnea patients as being predominantly men, but research statistics indicate a number of women have sleep apnea issues as well.
To determine if a patient has sleep apnea, a sleep study is required to measure the number of episodes of apnea (breathing stops and starts) or hypopnea (breathing is too shallow). The rating scale is zero to five episodes per hour is considered to be a mild case, five to 15 episodes are considered a moderate case, and above 15 episode per hour is severe sleep apnea.
When someone stops breathing 15 times every hour they certainly are not getting a good night’s sleep. They experience physiological consequences of stopping breathing such as high blood pressure and increased cortisol levels.
An excellent solution that we offer is an orthodontic mouth guard worn at night, which shifts the jaw and tongue forward while the patient sleeps. This appliance works well and the patient does not have to implement use of a CPAP mask and goggles. The sleep apnea does not go away completely but the relief is sufficient to allow the patient to go from a severe to a mild or very mild case very quickly.
The outcomes are so successful that one patient told me that not only is he sleeping at night and waking up refreshed, but his wife is sleeping and even the dog is not awakened by his snoring. That is a great story to illustrate how an entire household can be affected by one person’s sleep apnea and how quality of life for individuals improves with use of a mouth guard at night.
Dr. Michael E. Gallagher
West Park Dental
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Do you find yourself waking at night gasping for breath? Are you exhausted all day long because you just can't get a good night's sleep?
'Apnea' is a Greek word meaning "without breath"; people who have apnea literally stop breathing in their sleep. A cessation of breath lasting for 10 seconds in adults, or 2 and 1/2 breath cycles in a child, is the clinical definition of sleep apnea.
X-rays are used for diagnostic purposes, and to protect the patient from oral health problems that could arise—or are currently present—which would not be discovered without the use of this important diagnostic tool.