There are many reasons to visit the dentist regularly, especially considering that poor oral health has been associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other conditions. Recently, an organization is aiming to increase awareness of the important role that dentists play in the diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition that affects an estimated 20 to 40 million people in the U.S. alone.
Called "Snoring Isn't Sexy," the organization consists of a team of dentists who have specialty training in sleep disorders. OSA affects a person's ability to regulate their breathing as they sleep. The condition has been associated with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and erectile dysfunction. The most common treatment for this disease is a mask called a CPAP that provides air through a tube over the patient's nose.
Not everyone with OSA can use the mask, however, which is where dentists step in. There is an oral mouthpiece that can be provided by dentists to control OSA. While not as effective as the CPAP mask, it is a valuable tool for patients with no other options.
"The field of dental sleep medicine has developed over the past 20 years but, unfortunately, most of the public and even many physicians are unaware of the role dentistry plays, in concert with sleep physicians, in the recognition and management of of OSA," said Laurence Barsh, DDS, founder and president of Snoring Isn't Sexy, who added that he aims to increase awareness of the valuable role dentists play in the treatment of this disease.
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