Your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body. It feeds you the food you need to survive and allows the air you breathe to enter your lungs. It is often said that the health of your mouth predicts the health of your body. That is why it is important to take a whole-body approach in practicing dentistry. With many studies linking overall health and oral health, dentists and physicians have worked together to provide modern solutions to their patients. The treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one great example of how dentistry has evolved to treat medical problems with a more simple and more convenient solution.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects your airway and breathing while you sleep. It repeatedly stops and starts the flow of oxygen into your body because of a blocked or narrowed upper airway. More specifically, sleep apnea stops someone from breathing while sleeping. A person suffering from sleep apnea may stop breathing for just a few seconds or even minutes depending on how severe the disorder is. Those affected are known to have both short bursts and long periods without breathing. This serious disorder is often underdiagnosed yet can be the cause of several other severe conditions.
A recent study showed there are approximately 30 million Americans suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, yet only 6 million people are officially diagnosed. This means that 80 percent of people with OSA are undiagnosed. *as reported by the University of Minnesota
Why am I so tired?
Fragmented sleep is tiring. It can take a toll on a person’s physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing. Even more, repeated lack of quality sleep can lead to depression, hypertension, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. It can affect your workday, and your relationships, and even put yourself and others in danger when driving. Studies have shown that treating sleep apnea reduces other medical problems that stem from poor quality of sleep. The good news is that there is treatment available and the sooner OSA is diagnosed, the sooner you will start feeling better. Do I have sleep apnea? While there are many signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, it is very hard to self-diagnose since you are sleeping and unconscious when the sleep disorder occurs.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- High blood pressure
- High chance of falling asleep during daily activities
- Grinding teeth at night
At Hale Family Dentistry, patients are screened for this type of sleep disorder using the STOP-Bang Questionnaire and Epworth Sleepiness Scale. These assessments provide valuable information about a person’s sleeping habits and help Dr. Hale decide if further screening is necessary. Dr. Jonathan Hale can work alongside your primary care doctor in Fort Wayne on the next steps.
Traditional Treatment of Sleep Apnea
The go-to treatment for most doctors is called a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP machine. This electronic device sits on your nightstand and takes in the air in the room to keep your airway open and to prevent it from collapsing. You wear a mask-like nose covering that is strapped to your head, connected to a hose and the machine on your nightstand. While effective in treating obstructive sleep apnea, it is often reported as uncomfortable, poor fitting, and hard to adjust to. Because of this, a CPAP machine goes unused by many who suffer from sleep apnea.
Alternatives to CPAP for Sleep Apnea Treatment
Unused CPAP machines have led to the development of alternative treatment options such as a dental sleep apnea device. It is made by your dentist and can be far more comfortable to wear than a CPAP. The device fits on your teeth similarly to a retainer and repositions your mouth to move your lower jaw forward. This opens the airway allowing you to breathe better while sleeping. Unlike a CPAP, the dental device does not limit your sleep position making it more comfortable and easier to use. Patients who cannot tolerate a CPAP machine find that using a dental device allows them to treat their sleep disorder more effectively since they routinely use it.
While there is no treatment more effective than a traditional CPAP, a CPAP machine that goes unused is not effective at all. Some patients find that using a dental device treats their condition more effectively due to the simple fact they use it more routinely. There are many other benefits to the dental device such as the smaller size, convenience of traveling, less noise, and more comfortable sleep, but most of all, the biggest benefit is how it can improve your quality of life.
We take Medical Insurance
Unique to our practice, we can bill your medical insurance for oral appliances used in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. Due to the complexity of medical insurance, it is very uncommon for dentists to have this benefit for patients. Dr. Hale is the only dentist in Fort Wayne who will bill your medical insurance for you without having to pay 100% cost upfront. In addition, medical coverage typically does not have a maximum like your dental insurance.
For example, a person’s dental benefits may have a set dollar amount that insurance will cover. If your dental insurance max is $1500/year, insurance only pays that much and coverage is considered maxed. You will not use any of your dental insurance by getting a dental device by us being credentialed to send your claim to medical insurance.
Furthermore, medical insurance is more likely to cover the cost since it is treating a medical condition. We pride ourselves on being able to take the headache out of insurance by being experts in it. We do the paperwork, filing, and can even get estimates of costs before treatment.
Take the next step to treat obstructive sleep apnea with an oral appliance and Hale Family Dentistry will do the rest.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about obstructive sleep apnea and the solutions that we can provide can contact our office at 260-482-3759. Breathe easy and sleep better knowing that Hale Family Dentistry is focused on your overall health and wellbeing.
Dr. Jonathan Hale, a local dentist in Fort Wayne, can help you obtain a restful night’s sleep. Dr. Hale is an American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) member. AADSM is the leading national organization for dentists who treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy, an effective alternative treatment to the standard continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.