Sleep Apnea

Why would a dentist have sleep apnea on his or her website? Sleep apnea is a medical disorder, isn’t it? Sleep apnea treatment is administered by many different types of medical specialists such as: otolaryngologists (ENT specialists), surgeons, pulmonary specialists, sleep medical doctors, pediatricians (yes, children get sleep apnea), cardiologists, and internal medicine practitioners. So, how do dentists fit into this medical model? To understand, let’s look at sleep apnea for what it is and the treatments that are available today. Please read below, and to learn more about sleep apnea, contact Dr. Edward Shukovsky at his dental practice.

Sleep Health Survey

Do you think you might have sleep apnea? Are you looking for answers about why you’re so tired during the day? If you’re not ready to sign up for a sleep study but are concerned about your sleep health, we invite you to take a brief sleep health survey. The survey will be sent to Dr. Shukovsky, and if you contact the office to make an appointment, he can reference your information.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Make no mistake about it, sleep apnea is a serious condition. It is not simply about the annoyance of snoring. It is about not breathing during sleep and the body getting less than the necessary amounts of oxygen. The repercussions of this lack of oxygen are many, including: daytime sleepiness, sudden cardiac arrest, hypertension, acid reflux, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, stroke, irritability, and depression. Sleep apnea can cause morbidity, sickness, and even death.

Who has Sleep Apnea?

You can’t simply look at someone and know whether they have, or don’t have, sleep apnea. The prevailing myth is that only obese patients have sleep apnea. Most of the time, sleep apnea is caused by some obstruction in the airway during sleep, such as a large tongue, a small mandible (lower jaw), or the soft palate and pharyngeal tissues in the back of the mouth. We call this condition obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

The only way to diagnose sleep apnea is to conduct a sleep study, which can be done in a hospital or sleep center. The study can also be done with a monitor that the patient brings home and attaches to the wrist prior to sleeping, which gathers information that is then downloaded onto a computer. Either way, a complete study of how the patient is sleeping is taken and interpreted.

Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

There are several sleep apnea solutions that can be employed to help mitigate or eliminate this condition. One treatment for sleep apnea is the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. However, the main problem with the CPAP is low compliance – many patients do not want to use it while sleeping. And what good is a treatment if the patient doesn’t use it? How many CPAP machines are in the closet gathering dust?

Surgery is also an option for some patients. However, what if the patient is not a candidate for surgery, or does not wish to undergo surgery, and is CPAP intolerant? What is left? Here is where the dentist comes in. Enter the Oral Appliance. The oral appliance, technically referred to as a Mandibular Advancement Device, or MAD, keeps the airway open during sleep by moving the lower jaw slightly forward. There are a number of different types of MADs, but regardless of the type, they all basically work in the same manner. The appliance is made by Dr. Shukovsky at his office, and all require FDA-approval for the treatment of sleep apnea.

Are you starting to see why dentists are now involved with sleep apnea? That’s right; it is hard to have a conversation about obstructive sleep apnea without talking about the mouth!

Can a dentist just make a sleep appliance and be done?

No! What do we need to get? That’s right! A sleep study must first be carried out in order to diagnose sleep apnea. But there is another reason we want to start with the sleep study. Whether the treatment choice is surgery, a CPAP machine, an oral appliance, or any combination of these, we want to make sure the therapy is working. So we need the baseline sleep study from before therapy was initiated and then a follow-up sleep study some time later to make sure the patient’s condition is improving. So, sleep studies are important, not only for the diagnosis but also to see how the patient is doing with the particular therapeutic modality being used.

Sleep Apnea Treatment for Medicare Patients

Dr. Shukovsky is an approved Durable Medical Equipment provider for Medicare. Most qualified Medicare patients can receive full coverage for the cost of their sleep apnea oral appliance at our practice. To be eligible for coverage, you must be a Medicare patient who has completed a sleep study, received a physician’s prescription, and has demonstrated recorded intolerance for a CPAP machine (must have an Affidavit of CPAP intolerance). For more information about how Dr. Shukovsky can help treat Medicare patients with sleep apnea, please contact us today.

Learn More about Sleep Apnea, Contact Us

Dr. Shukovsky is a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and is enthusiastic about treating patients that snore and/or have sleep apnea. Dr. Shukovsky says, “The goal here is to have our patients get healthier. Most of these patients have multiple symptoms related to their apnea, whether that is snoring, hypertension, or daytime sleepiness. So, ultimately, the place we want them to be is for them to feel better.” Contact our practice today for more information about sleep apnea, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Shukovsky.