Obstructive Sleep Apnea FAQ's

Below are some common questions that are asked when discussing and treating obstructive sleep apnea.

Can Obstructive Sleep Apnea impact overall health and can it cause serious health issues if left untreated?   

Absolutely. Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when the tongue and the palate collapse onto the back of the throat, blocking air flow into the lungs. Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea increases your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic acid reflex, strokes, memory issues, depression, diabetes, and it can be a threat to your safety and the safety of others due to increased drowsiness.

Should a patient expect their dental office to ask about snoring habits or blood pressure? Are these symptoms related to oral health?  

They are. Snoring, high blood pressure, daytime tiredness, grinding your teeth, acid reflex, tongue size, the size of your tonsils, and a neck size of 17 inches or more are all risk factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine recommends a sleep study for patients that have one or more of these risk factors.  Several of these risk factors can be recognized during your dental exam and may not necessarily be caught by your physician.  Additionally, the team at Ellis Dental performs a thorough review your medications and health history to help identify these risk factors so the proper treatment can be recommended.   

Our team at Ellis Dental is committed to helping our patients achieve the best overall healthcare and this is why we screen our patients for many risk factors. Our sleep studies can be completed from the comfort of your own home. In some cases, an overnight sleep study at a lab may be required however we work with our patients to find the best and most accommodating method to obtain the correct diagnosis. Once our study is complete, we work with your physician to achieve a comprehensive approach to your treatment and health.

If someone appears to show some of the warning signs but is not tired during the day, should they still take an at home sleep test?

Yes! Not all patients with mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea suffer from daytime tiredness. However, if a patient does exhibit some of the warning signs they, are at risk of other issues including a lack of the appropriate amount of oxygen being delivered to their brain during sleep.

Is the CPAP machine the only way to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea? For years this seemed to be the case, is that still the only option?

Not at all. A dental sleep appliance can be used to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea and in many cases the acceptance of this treatment is far higher than a CPAP machine.  Research in this field over the past 15 years has supported the effectiveness of a dental sleep appliance in helping open the airway during sleep. This treatment also helps the acceptance and compliance when it comes to wearing the smaller, less cumbersome dental sleep appliance compared to the noisy and large CPAP machine.

Dr. Ellis can now design a custom dental sleep appliance fitted specifically to open a patient’s airway during sleep. This treatment approach can significantly benefit patients that are unable or unwilling to wear a CPAP, yet still suffer from the Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Will insurance cover this treatment?

There are several options for coverage of this treatment. Sleep Apnea is a medical diagnosis made by a sleep specialist. Ellis Dental has found that most medical insurances will offer benefits towards the sleep appliance cost. Additionally, your dental costs may be covered by your dental insurance benefits or through our in-house program, SmileAdvantage. Please talk to me, our Sleep Coordinator, about your options for treatment coverage.