As we continue to treat emergency patients only per the ADA’s recommendation, it’s important to understand that there are many potential classes of emergencies. Last time, we talked about emergency restorative dentistry, but this time we want to talk about sleep apnea treatment.
Sleep apnea is a potentially deadly condition, and it needs to be treated immediately. For some people, CPAP is the right choice, but many people can’t stick with their CPAP and need an alternative. We offer oral appliance therapy, which is just as effective for most people.
Here’s why you need to take your sleep apnea seriously and seek alternative care urgently.
Increased Cardiac Death Risk
While there is no doubt that sleep apnea can increase your long-term risk of heart problems, such as heart failure and stroke, it’s important to understand that it also increases your risk of sudden cardiac death.
One 2013 study showed that sleep apnea could increase your risk of sudden cardiac death by 60%. And that’s out of the general population. For people with other conditions, the risk might be even higher. For example, one study looking at people on hemodialysis found that they were three times more likely to experience sudden cardiac death if they had sleep apnea.
Essential Workers Have Higher Accident Risks
While many people may be working from home right now, that many depends on the sacrifices of the few essential workers who are putting in more time and effort now to keep the system running smoothly, including truck drivers, factory workers, and, of course, healthcare workers. All these people are at higher accident risk because of sleep apnea.
In one study, for example, truck drivers were found to have an avoidable accident risk five times higher if they had untreated sleep apnea than if they had no sleep apnea or if it were treated. In addition, people are about three times more likely to have a vigilance-related workplace accident if they have untreated sleep apnea.
And healthcare workers are twice as likely to have workplace accidents or make mistakes if they were at high risk for sleep apnea, than those who were at low risk.
Sleep Apnea Could Increase Coronavirus Risk
It’s also possible that having sleep apnea could increase your risk of serious complications and even death from coronavirus. That’s because coronavirus attacks the lungs, and many people may experience reduced breathing efficiency without realizing it at first. Although they think they’re breathing normally, their breathing might be altered and their oxygen saturation could be reduced.
Since sleep apnea on its own can cause dangerous reductions in oxygen concentration, the combination of untreated sleep apnea and undiagnosed COVID-19 could be especially dangerous.
Treatment Gives Rapid Improvement
The good news is that when you get your sleep apnea treated, the benefits can be immediate. Many of our patients report that they start sleeping better the first night, and the first day after they feel so much more refreshed and energized.
But you don’t have to count on anecdotal evidence to see the benefit. A 2018 study looked at about 350 patients who were released from the hospital with a CPAP prescription. About half of those prescribed didn’t adhere to their CPAP, and they were 3.5 times more likely to be readmitted to the hospital for any cause within 30 days than those who did use their CPAP.
Sleep Apnea Treatment You Will Use
The above study highlights both the benefit and pitfall of CPAP. It works great when people use it. But it doesn’t work at all if you don’t, and about half of all patients find they can’t use their CPAP.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and find you can’t keep using your CPAP, or if you don’t even want to try it, oral appliance therapy might be the right choice for you. We can also talk about the possibility of using epigenetic dentistry to reshape your airway, which can improve your breathing and potentially cure your sleep apnea, not just treat it.
To learn more about the immediate and long-term benefits of sleep apnea treatment, please call (239) 597-7333 today for an appointment with a sleep dentist at the Massa Dental Center in Naples, FL.