Sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder, and other sleep-related concerns are leading causes of daytime sleepiness, poor concentration, and a range of symptoms that impact a person’s daily quality of life.
Dr. Justin Deckard has focused his postgraduate training and education on diagnosing sleep problems. His goal is to help patients address sleep disorders that affect how they feel, their ability to perform at their jobs, and other aspects of their lives to restore health and wellness.
There are many patients with these concerns who are suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnea. However, there is a growing number of patients experiencing the effects of poor-quality sleep who do not have sleep apnea.
For these patients, Dr. Deckard offers the benefit of his advanced training in Airway Dentistry. He has taken courses taught by Mark Cruz, a leading dental professional in the study and development of Airway Dentistry. Our office also provides additional general dentistry services to new and existing patients.
What Is Airway Dentistry?
Airway Dentistry is a developing field that focuses on the function of a patient’s oral structure and how it relates to breathing. One of the key elements of sleep-disordered breathing is mouth breathing.
Dr. Deckard looks for the signs of mouth breathing. This includes abnormal oral development concerns such as tooth wear, tongue position, and the appearance of soft tissues in the back of the throat.
Identifying a sleep-disordered breathing problem early will resolve symptoms and improve health. It will also reduce the risk of developing sleep apnea, which carries with it a risk of heart attack and stroke.
Dr. Deckard may identify a patient as being at risk during a routine dental exam where he looks for the common oral signs of sleep disorders. We also take the time to discuss your lifestyle habits and medical conditions that could impact your oral health during your routine visits.
This complete approach is a hallmark of our dental care at DC Precision Dentistry. It is part of our effort to help patients enjoy good oral health that supports their overall well-being.
If you are at risk for a sleep disorder or are experiencing symptoms of one, Dr. Deckard will use tools and testing to evaluate your breathing patterns to gain a diagnosis.
Treating Sleep-Disordered Breathing
In most cases, sleep-disordered breathing is from the resistance in the airway from the muscles that are relaxing and collapsing on the pharynx. While patients with what is known as Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) do not cease breathing as occurs in sleep apnea, this resistance disrupts normal breathing patterns.
A patient is then unable to enter into REM sleep, an important part of the sleep cycle that rejuvenates brain function.
Dr. Deckard works with patients to diagnose their condition, sleep, and breathing patterns and provide appropriate treatment. Using a custom oral appliance, we can often restore normal breathing, better sleep, and improved quality of life.
There are also therapies and advanced treatment options to treat each patient’s unique oral health condition. Our approach will meet your needs, address any oral structural issues and help you breathe easier while sleeping.
Airway Dentistry FAQs
Are sleep apnea and sleep-disordered breathing the same thing?
No. Sleep apnea typically refers to a condition where the airway is fully blocked and breathing stops throughout the night. Sleep-disordered breathing occurs when the airway is restricted and interrupts normal breathing patterns, without full cessation of breathing. This makes it hard for the body to take part in the needed REM sleep cycle.
How do I know if I’m suffering from sleep apnea or sleep-disordered breathing?
There are many symptoms that coincide with both conditions. Being very tired throughout the day or waking up tired even when you got a good amount of sleep is not normal. Both of these conditions can be the cause of these problems.
For sleep apnea specifically, snoring and waking up gasping for air in the night can happen. You may also notice that you’re waking up with headaches in the morning or are more irritable than normal.
Is there a sleep position that can help with these conditions?
Yes. One of the things suggested to help with airway problems is to sleep on the right side. This helps to promote blood flow and discourages snoring.
What does sleep apnea have to do with dentistry?
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing pauses or shallow breaths occur during sleep. Dentists play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of this condition. A dentist can utilize various techniques such as oral appliance therapy that can help reduce the severity of your sleep apnea symptoms and consequently improve your quality of life.
Oral appliances also provide a convenient non-invasive solution in-contrast to other more invasive treatments for sleep apnea such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines. Therefore, dentists are essential to successfully manage the dental aspects of sleep apnea and ensure better quality sleep for their patients.
How does airway dentistry improve sleep and overall health?
Airway dentistry can positively affect your sleep quality and overall health by addressing the underlying causes of sleep apnea and other airway conditions. Treatment of airway obstruction with airway dentistry methods can help improve overall health and well-being by improving airflow through the nose and throat.
Improving your oxygenation leads to improving your quality of sleep while the redirection of airflow can reduce fatigue by reviving mental alertness throughout the day.
What are the different treatments that airway dentistry provides?
Airway dentistry offers a variety of treatments to improve breathing and sleep for patients with sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and conditions that relate to it.
Some common treatments include oral appliance therapy, orthognathic surgery, nasal and sinus treatments, myofunctional therapy, positive airway pressure therapy (PAP), and inspire Upper Airway Stimulation (UAS). The appropriate treatment will depend on the individual patient’s specific needs and conditions.