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When to Talk to a Dentist about Sleep Apnea

man snoring in bed while woman covers her ears
Sleep apnea is a potentially deadly condition. It can contribute to serious health and accident risks. Because of these numerous risks, studies show that people with untreated sleep apnea are about 4-6 times more likely to die from any cause than people without sleep apnea. With that level of risk, it’s important to get your sleep apnea treated. 

One option for finding sleep apnea treatment many people don’t know about is talking to a sleep dentist. Woburn and Winchester sleep dentist Dr. Ryan Clancy can help you get the sleep treatment you need. Here are the times you should consider scheduling an appointment with him. 

You Want to Get a Home Sleep Test

Most people with sleep apnea don’t know they have it. About 80% of people with sleep apnea are undiagnosed. That’s because sleep apnea occurs during the night, and doctors forget to ask about it. 

How do you know when to suspect sleep apnea? Suspect sleep apnea if you have several of these symptoms:

  • Waking up unrested despite a full night in bed
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Dozing off at work or while driving
  • Tendency to snore
  • Loss of energy, drive, or pleasure
  • Depression or moodiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Health problems such as drug-resistant hypertension

With these symptoms, you are at elevated risk for sleep apnea. However, there’s only one way to know for sure: a sleep test. In the past, sleep tests were done in the lab, but now you can get a sleep test in the comfort of your own home while sleeping in your own bed. Woburn and Winchester sleep dentist Dr. Clancy can help you get a sleep test for the condition. 

You Don’t Want to Use CPAP

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your sleep doctor will likely prescribe CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). CPAP is a highly effective treatment for people who can use it, but many people don’t want to use it. 

CPAP uses a pump to force air into your throat via your nose and/or mouth. This can be unpleasant, and not everyone even wants to try it. Plus, CPAP machines are inconvenient to use, care for, and transport. If you don’t think you’re going to like CPAP, it makes sense to consider your other sleep apnea treatment options. 

CPAP is not the only sleep apnea treatment available. Oral appliance therapy is a front-line CPAP alternative for mild to moderate sleep apnea. This means that if you have mild to moderate sleep apnea, you can choose oral appliance therapy instead of CPAP, and insurance will cover it. 

CPAP Isn’t Available

These days, there is another reason to choose oral appliance therapy over CPAP: CPAP might not be available. As with everything, the supply chain for CPAP manufacturing has been snarled, delaying the delivery of machines. To make matters worse, one of the largest CPAP manufacturers (Philips Respironics) had a huge recall related to their machines, and the company continues to struggle to supply replacements, let alone get machines for new users. 

As a result of these factors, some people are waiting years for CPAP machines. With all the dangers of sleep apnea, the best sleep apnea treatment for you might be the one you can get now, not the one you must wait years to receive. 

You Tried CPAP, and It Didn’t Work

Properly used, CPAP is an almost 100% effective sleep apnea treatment. However, it’s hard for people to use their CPAP machines enough to treat their sleep apnea. The usual standard for CPAP compliance is using it on about 70% of nights for at least four hours. Even at that standard, nearly half of all people prescribed CPAP can’t adhere to CPAP long-term. 

You shouldn’t give up on sleep apnea treatment just because CPAP failed you. Instead, it’s time to consider your alternatives, such as oral appliance therapy. Woburn and Winchester sleep dentist Dr. Clancy can fit you with an oral appliance that is easier to use so you can successfully treat your sleep apnea. 

Lifestyle Changes Reduced Your Sleep Apnea

CPAP is the only recommended frontline treatment for severe sleep apnea. If you have severe sleep apnea, your doctor will likely give you tips to help you reduce your sleep apnea. This might include getting more exercise, losing weight, quitting smoking, and more. 

If you successfully follow your doctor’s advice, you might not eliminate sleep apnea entirely, but you might reduce it to the point that you are a good candidate for oral appliance therapy. Woburn and Winchester sleep dentist Dr. Clancy can fit you with an oral appliance, so you never have to put on your CPAP again. 

CPAP Alternatives in Woburn and Winchester

If you don’t want CPAP or haven’t been able to stick with CPAP, Woburn and Winchester sleep dentist Dr. Clancy, can help you get a CPAP alternative that is more comfortable and convenient. 

To learn whether you’re a candidate, please call (781) 396-8558 or use our online form to request an appointment at Divine Smiles, serving Woburn and Winchester from our location in Horn Pond Plaza, across from Whole Foods. 

By Ryan M. Clancy, DMD, MAGD, LVIF, FPFA, FIAPA | October 5th, 2022 | Sleep Apnea

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