How Dentists Can Help with Sleep Apnea

Licensed to practice dentistry in the state of New Jersey, Dr. Christopher Lillo leads Oak Ridge Dental Group, PA, in Toms River. In addition to oral maintenance and root canals, Dr. Christopher Lillo offers wisdom teeth extractions and sleep apnea treatments.

Affecting millions of Americans, sleep apnea leads to daytime drowsiness, insomnia, and excessive snoring, which can cause choking during slumber. The illness is a silent condition and often goes undiagnosed. Fortunately, dentists, who tend to see patients more than physicians, can identify symptoms early on. Complaints about lethargy and dry mouth signal to a dentist that the patient should be referred to a sleep medicine specialist, who can further exam him or her and give a proper diagnosis.

The dentist then treats the disorder, utilizing various solutions. For mild cases, a change in diet and exercise may be enough to offset future symptoms. A dentist may also suggest that the patient adjust his or her sleeping position. In extreme situations, wearing a dental device known as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask to enhance airflow while sleeping will likely be recommended.

Sleep Apnea and Devices for Treating the Condition

Practicing dentistry in Toms River, New Jersey, Dr. Christopher Lillo received a DMD from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Christopher Lillo specializes in molar root canals and treating patients with sleep apnea.

A serious sleep disorder that largely impacts the overweight population over the age of 40, sleep apnea can affect individuals of all ages. Those living with the condition and not receiving treatment have a higher risk of diabetes, heart failure, and depression.

Sleep apnea comes in two forms, obstructive and central. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses, blocking the air passageway. Central sleep apnea results from instability in the respiratory control center, which prohibits communication between the brain and breathing muscles.

Diagnosed patients may be recommended a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to wear while sleeping. The device delivers constant air into the nose to keep airways open and working properly. A dentist can also suggest a variety of tools, including a mandibular advancement and tongue-retaining devices.