When was the last time you asked your dentist about sleep disorders? The answer would most likely be never. Do you regularly lose energy as the day wears down – even forcing yourself to stay “with it” in mid-afternoon by grabbing an energy drink?
Have you heard complaints about your snoring or wake up groggy and unrested? These are all symptoms of sleep apnea, a common disorder in which you experience a pause in breathing while you sleep. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that at least 40 million people of all ages in the U.S. have a chronic sleep disorder.
So, why ask your dentist about what could be a medical condition? Without doubt, doctors are very concerned with your health and wellness. However, only trained and certified dentists can make state-of-the-art oral devices to help with sleep and energy.
Dental Sleep Therapy
Dr. Scott Bares, owner of Freeport Dental, is introducing sleep disorder therapy to Freeport and local communities. “Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can cause a person to stop breathing hundreds of times at night for just a few seconds and up to one minute,” Dr. Bares explained. “Left untreated, the stress caused by repeated lack of oxygen can lead to fatigue, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and complications with diabetes. Safety risks frequently include drowsy driving and workplace accidents.”
Dr. Bares continued, “Unfortunately, sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Many patients may not know they have it because it’s only apparent at night. One of our primary goals is to raise awareness in the community of the health concerns caused by insufficient sleep and the importance of a clear, unobstructed airway.”
The practice of dental sleep disorder therapy has been growing rapidly in recent years. Advances in dental technology allow affordable in-home sleep tests and effective oral appliance therapy for patients diagnosed with OSA.
How Dental Sleep Therapy Works
Hospital sleep studies have been around since the 1950s. It wasn’t until 1980 that the first continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine was put into use for patients with sleep apnea. Since that time it has been the “gold standard” for OSA treatment. Still, it’s common for people to have difficulty with hospital-based sleep tests and the inconvenience of using the CPAP masks and machine.
“It’s our responsibility as professionals to communicate with patients and educate them on how we can help improve their lives. We do this through consultation and the use of in-home sleep studies which are then read by a qualified physician. Depending on test results and the level of sleep apnea, a custom-fitted oral appliance may be prescribed to help keep the airway open and breathing at night,” said Dr. Bares.
Following consultation, Freeport Dental will supply the patient with sleep test equipment to take home. Next day the clinic transmits the readings to a physician for diagnosis. With these results, options for patient therapy are explained and finalized.
Costs for consultation, home sleep test and custom-fitted oral appliance therapy are fully covered, with a patient co-pay portion, under most health care insurance plans. Those enrolled in Medicare are also covered with a patient co-pay. Dr. Bares is receiving Medicare certification for the procedure. Patients have found this alternative to CPAP therapy to be less costly and far more convenient to significantly reduce the occurrence of airway obstruction.
Dr. Bares is a graduate of Freeport High School and received his Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Illinois at Chicago – College of Dentistry. Dr. Bares and his wife, Kelly, are sole owners of Freeport Dental, Riverside Dental, and Forreston Dental.