Every day, around 20 million Americans wake up feeling exhausted due to Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the second most common sleep disorder in the U.S. (right behind insomnia). OSA can rob people of their nightly rest and their overall health if left untreated.
Sleep Apnea started as a personal journey for Dr. Kirk. “I was exercising five days a week and eating healthy. However, I was still tired, had higher than normal blood pressure, was irritable with my family, and snored louder than a freight train my wife said.” Dr. Kirk started extensive continuing education over two years ago. Through that process, he identified that he rated severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea on the Apnea-Hypopnea Index.
The process for Dr. Kirk began with the Sleep Group Solutions, Inc. who offers programs and training for OSA. They have an FDA-approved Home Sleep Test (now offered at Grand Dental Studio). Dr. Kirk also completed The Epworth Sleepiness Scale which is a simple questionnaire. After having a licensed medical doctor review his sleep test, it was confirmed that Dr. Kirk had severe OSA. Dr. Kirk put himself on a CPAP machine (stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) after receiving a prescription from his medical doctor. He also created a custom oral appliance for himself that he uses when he travels. Several members of our team did the testing process and their husbands did too. Plus, Dr. Kirk’s parents completed the process with us. That began the idea that with specific training and an investment with Sleep Group Solutions, Inc., we could become your first line evaluation for Obstructive Sleep Apnea much in the way that we provide preventive dental service and oral cancer screening.
What is Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a disorder where a person briefly and frequently stops breathing during the night. This is most often caused by the soft tissues in the mouth and throat relaxing into and blocking the airway. When this occurs, the body panics and partially wakes up in order to restore normal breathing. This can happen up to 100 times an hour for some patients.
These constant interruptions prevent a person from getting the deep, restful sleep they need to stay awake and alert during the day, and they can also bring on a variety of other potentially harmful symptoms.
- Loud, chronic snoring
- Frequent and persistent exhaustion despite getting 7-9 hours of sleep
- Waking up in the middle of the night gasping or out of breath
- Mood swings/depression
- Morning headaches/sore throats
- Memory problems
- Trouble losing/keeping off weight
- Sexual dysfunction
- Greater likelihood of Stroke
According to research conducted by the American Sleep Apnea Association, nearly 38,000 annual cardiovascular deaths in the U.S. can be directly linked to complications due to Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
How Your Dentist Can Help
So how does a dentist get involved? OSA actually occurs in the mouth and throat, and using a custom-made oral appliance worn during sleep, it can actually prevent the lapses in breathing by slightly shifting the jaw to keep the airway open. In order to make sure this appliance fits comfortably over the teeth and prevents OSA symptoms, a doctor needs to have an extensive working knowledge of the mouth and oral cavity. Only a dentist can prescribe a custom oral appliance used to treat mild to moderate OSA.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends a dentist prescribed oral appliance as the first-line treatment option for patients with mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea AND for those with severe OSA who either decline CPAP therapy or are unable to use a CPAP.
Dr. Kirk and his team have committed to hours of training with Sleep Group Solutions, Inc. to provide a screening process and an at Home Sleep Test for adults versus spending the night in a sleep clinic. In addition, Dr. Kirk has taken hours of continuing education to provide oral appliance therapy for those suffering from mild to moderate OSA, and with it, he can help a patient get the rest they deserve while safeguarding their overall health at the same time.
How to Get Started
If you believe that you or a loved one may be suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea, you can start getting the help you need by contacting Dr. Kirk. At a consultation, he’ll perform a brief exam, and if he believes that you may be suffering from OSA, he will prescribe the Home Sleep Study. This will give you a proper diagnosis, and then Dr. Kirk can work with your doctor to provide treatment options for you. Don’t suffer through another sleepless night or drowsy day because of Sleep Apnea! Dr. Kirk and Grand Dental Studio are ready and able to help. With personal experience, he can understand your questions and concerns. Dr. Kirk has now been using his CPAP nightly for over a year.