Sleep issues can present a major health risk, causing systemic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, atrial fibrillation, acid reflux, hypertension, weight gain, depression and brain fog – and these issues all can be negatively impacted by sleep apnea.
“If you are struggling to breathe and get oxygen to your brain while sleeping, your body is unable to get into the deeper, more restorative phases of sleep,” explained Dana Blalock, D.D.S., owner of Sleep Better South Carolina in Charleston. “If you aren’t sleeping, your body is not healing. If you are struggling to breathe, your heart thinks that it is running a marathon all night long.”
Sleep Better South Carolina treats patients with sleep apnea and snoring with an oral appliance.
“Many patients have tried CPAP therapy and are looking for a more comfortable, portable option,” said Dr. Blalock, adding that others have no desire to try a CPAP and go right to using an oral appliance. “We work closely with our patients’ medical providers, keeping them up to speed with every step along their patients’ treatment. I find these relationships extremely important to help improve the health of our patients.”
In addition to Dr. Blalock, the practice has a sleep assistant who helps patients with their oral appliance treatment, a referral coordinator who assists patients with their health insurance and necessary paperwork and a medical billing coordinator/receptionist.
At Sleep Better South Carolina, Dr. Blalock discusses a patient’s diagnosis, treatment options and previous therapies. Then, based on their particular situation, a recommendation is made for an oral appliance that will best fit the patient’s needs.
“We also discuss the importance of good sleep hygiene, nasal breathing and sleep position for improving treatment outcomes,” Dr. Blalock said.
The doctor utilizes a pharyngometer and rhinometer that provides representations of the patient’s airway with normal breathing.
“This data provides the best information for maintaining an open airway during sleep. Digital impressions/scans of a patient’s teeth and specific jaw position are taken and sent to a qualified dental lab to fabricate the patient’s appliance based on their exact specifications,” she said.
Sleep Better South Carolina gets results. “After patients wear their appliances for a month or so, we do a repeat sleep test to verify that we are improving their particular situation. Apnea is classified as mild, moderate and severe. We see many patients that have gone from severe sleep apnea to mild sleep apnea or no apnea at all,” Dr. Blalock pointed out.
In January of this year, she sold her dental practice so that she can focus all of her time practicing sleep dentistry in her new location in West Ashley.
“Although not centrally located, it is very convenient to the greater Charleston area, near Roper St. Francis Hospital and numerous referring physicians. Plus, the big bonus is it is only 15 minutes from where I live,” Dr. Blalock said.
For more information on Sleep Better South Carolina, visit sleepbettersc.com or call 843-494-5004.
By John Torsiello