A Well Rested Smile

Dental treatments can help with sleep apnea symptoms.

Dr. Valentina Obradovic, D.D.S

Do you regularly feel tired and have trouble concentrating even though you get seven or eight hours of sleep most nights? Does your partner
regularly complain about your snoring? If so, you may be suffering from sleep apnea, a common sleeping disorder that can have long-term negative health effects.

Fortunately, sleep apnea can be addressed through dental treatments. As the owner of Smiles By Valentina in San Diego and Adriatic Dental in San Marcos, I have been able to help many patients deal with this problem.

Sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing for short periods while asleep. Those with sleep apnea can have their sleep interrupted over a hundred times during the night and not even be aware of it. The body doesn’t respond well to all these interruptions. After all, sleep is the body’s primary recovery mechanism. Symptoms of sleep apnea include:

• Fatigue
• Difficulty concentrating
• Extreme sleepiness during the day
• Increased blood pressure
• Increased risk of stroke
• Increased risk of heart attack and heart failure
• Increased risk of diabetes
• Increased risk of depression
• Worsening of ADHD

The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition in which the airway is blocked during sleep by soft tissue in the back of the throat. Sleep apnea can affect anyone, including men, women and children. In many cases, an individual doesn’t even know that they have sleep apnea

Fortunately, there are a variety of treatments available. The type of treatment recommended will depend on the individual situation of each patient. The most basic treatment is behavior therapy. Sometimes just avoiding alcohol, sleeping pills and other sedatives before going to sleep is all that’s
needed to correct the issue. In other circumstances, patients have seen improvement by switching from sleeping on their back to sleeping on their side.

For more moderate or severe cases of sleep apnea, there are other treatment options including medications that encourage breathing during the night or even a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, a mask that patients wear during the night that forces their airways open with pressurized air. However, many patients find the CPAP device to be very uncomfortable.

Luckily, your local dentist may have a more comfortable alternative. As an experienced dentist, I usually prescribe an Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT)—a custom-made mouthpiece, similar to a retainer, that moves the lower jaw forward so the airway remains open throughout the night. Another option at your dentist’s disposal is a DNA Appliance, which is similar to an OAT, but actually encourages changes in your jaw and
teeth structure to permanently eliminate sleep apnea.

Most dental interventions for sleep apnea are ideal for mild-to-moderate cases of the disorder. If sleep apnea is severe, your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon for surgery.

If you or someone in your family is suffering from the symptoms of sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with your dentist right away. Please feel free to call me with questions at 760.591.3434 or visit our website at healthygumsandteethnow.com. Or stop by Smiles By Valentina in San Diego or Adriatic Dental in San Marcos. We can’t wait to see your well-rested smile!