Going to the dentist is probably one of the most dreaded things that we have to do, but now your dentist can offer you more than root canals and routine cleanings; she might be able to help you sleep better. According to King5 HealthLink, a new treatment for sleep apnea is a device worn in the mouth that adjusts the jaw to ease breathing while the wearer sleeps. The typical treatment for sleep apnea — the most efficient treatment — is to be hooked up to a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, but the new device only requires that it be worn while you sleep. The new dental device is not for everyone though, just those with less severe sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea refers to a condition that causes a person to stop and start breathing repeatedly while asleep, which can cause a lack of oxygen to the brain and body. Many people don’t even know that they have sleep apnea. According to dentist and sleep expert Dr. Gretchen Zody, some signs of sleep apnea include indentations of the teeth on the tongue, teeth clenching and grinding, snoring, and acid reflux. Undiagnosed sleep apnea can be very dangerous, and it is a much more prevalent disorder than you might think. According to The Huffington Post, the National Sleep Foundation estimates there are 18 million people suffering from it. That’s more than the number of people living with things like depression, HIV, OCD, and alcohol dependence.
Undiagnosed sleep apnea can be dangerous. According to ABC News, it can be one of the causes of public transportation tragedies. When public transportation drivers fall asleep because they aren’t sleeping well at night due to untreated sleep apnea, the results can be deadly. Mark Rosekind, National Transportation Safety Board member says that sleep apnea is a national problem for operators and drivers. An investigation found that the cause of the December 2013 train crash that resulted in four deaths and 63 injuries was the conductor’s undiagnosed sleep apnea. As of now, there are no national rules that require drivers of public transportation to undergo sleep apnea testing, but some companies have taken to screening their own drivers for the disorder. This type of preventative measure may be the key to keeping these catastrophes from happening in the future.
If you suspect that you suffer from sleep apnea, getting screened for the disorder is an important for your health and safety. If you do find that you suffer from sleep apnea, a trip to the dentist may be all you need.