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Dentists Can Detect Sleep Disorders

A woman sleeping peacefully.

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Dentists are generally known for cleaning and taking care of your teeth, but their success in the treatment of sleep apnea is giving adults yet another reason to schedule an appointment with a dental/sleep specialist such as Dr. Nicole Dahlkemper at Water’s Edge Dentistry.

Most people see their dentist or dental hygienist more often than they see their primary care physician, so these health care professionals often have a better chance of observing signs and symptoms of sleep disordered breathing. A review of a patient’s medical history and a thorough examination of a patient’s dental health is often a clear indicator of sleep apnea.

“Mouth breathing, a common symptom of sleep apnea, results in dry mouth and leads to tooth decay, which can be detected in a yearly dental cleaning appointment. Indicators of sleep apnea often detected at home include nighttime waking, snoring, morning high blood pressure, daytime sleepiness, depression, morning headaches, memory loss and teeth grinding,” said Dr. Dahlkemper.

Following a consultation and examination, Dr. Dahlkemper often recommends oral appliance therapy with a specifically-designed and custom-made oral appliance – mouthpiece – that fits over the teeth, realigning the tongue and jaw to allow for an open airway and normal airflow to the lungs.

“Patients who benefit most from an oral appliance are those who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and cannot tolerate a continuous positive airway pressure machine and refuse surgery or have had surgery but did not receive a desired result,” she explained.

Dr. Dahlkemper and her team work closely with patients and reputable sleep centers throughout the Charleston area to ensure the best treatment plan is put into place for each individual patient.
NightLase® laser therapy, a non-invasive, patient-friendly laser treatment, is another option offered at Water’s Edge Dentistry to help cure sleep apnea, and Dr. Dahlkemper and her team often offer combined therapy of both an oral appliance and laser therapy when a more aggressive approach is needed.

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Dr. Dahlkemper described the treatment of sleep apnea as needing “a team approach.” Sleep doctors can diagnose a sleep condition, but, when it comes to treatment, a resolution to a sleep disorder can take a variety of approaches. A CPAP machine is often initially prescribed by physicians, but many patients cannot tolerate it or find the equipment to be cumbersome to sleep in or travel with.

Dr. Dahlkemper provides individualized, modern, alternative treatment plans to a condition that when left untreated can cause numerous health issues.

“Prior to receiving treatment for my sleep apnea, I was told I had only two options: surgery or wearing a CPAP device. Dr. Dahlkemper introduced me to a wonderful procedure called NightLase®. Together, the sleep appliance and the NightLase® treatments have allowed me to sleep better, to the point that I no longer feel the morning blues and feel invigorated to start my day,” concluded Water’s Edge Dentistry patient Mark J.

For more information on Water’s Edge Dentistry and its expertise with sleep apnea, visit www.watersedgeSC.com or call 843-884-6166.

By Jennifer Harrison

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