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Dentists Give Patients a Good Night’s Rest

October 29th, 2007 · No Comments

With more information at their fingertips on the Internet, your dental patients may come to you – in addition to their primary physician – looking for some sweet dreams. A recent study revealed what some already know, that patients with a sleep-deprived brain respond more acutely to negative situations. Matthew Walker, researcher and neuroscientist at University of California, reported to LiveScience, "When we’re sleep deprived, it’s really as if the brain is reverting to more primitive behavior, regressing in terms of the control humans normally have over their emotions."

Walker continued to state that people deprive themselves of sleep almost daily, which causes significant problems. In the past, scientists thought that people with psychiatric issues were more prone to sleep disorders, but now they are beginning to believe that this dichotomy may work in reverse.

Sleep apnea can be obstructive (OSA), central (CSA), or mixed. With OSA, soft tissues collapse to stop airflow, and the sleeping patient stops breathing, periodically, for ten or more seconds at a time. Symptoms include snoring, daytime drowsiness, memory problems, and – you guessed it – irritability. Sleep apnea patients are at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Obviously, any condition or situation that causes obstructed airflow is potentially deadly.

Some may think, What does dentistry have to do with sleeping disorders? Dentists, however, can help patients with obstructive sleep apnea or snoring problems. Consider these options for your sleepy-headed (OSA) patients:

Ø      The CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is a bit cumbersome. It supplies air up the nose to force soft tissues to stay open while a patient sleeps.

Ø      The TAP (Thornton Adjustable Positioner) is an oral splint that holds soft tissues and the tongue out of the way to create unobstructed airflow.

Ø      The MAD (mandibular advancement device) pushes the lower jaw forward to make more room for airflow. It has been linked to pain in the jaw, though. One study shows no orthodontic side effects.

Ø      The Quietsleep website offers photos and descriptions of more than 30 sleep apnea/snoring cessation devices, so it’s a great place to start your research.

The CPAP site offers a sleep apnea questionnaire that can be beneficial in your diagnosis. The site also features "Introduction to the Sleep Lab Video" to help patients know what to expect in a diagnostic sleep study. Learn more about sleep apnea here.

Tags: Diagnostics · Just for Fun · Uncategorized