Sleep Apnea

Identification of Sleep Apnea

Screening tests the sleep dentist performs may include:

• Performing an oral examination and evaluation on the head, neck and facial area, teeth and supporting structures.
• Upper and lower dental impressions may be taken.,br> • Lateral Cephalogram and Tomographic X-Rays of the jaws will be used to evaluate the jaw position and airway potential.
• Using a non-invasive instrument called an Eccovision® Pharyngometer/Rhinometer.

The Pharyngometer/Rhinometer, used with a computer, assesses both the oral and nasal airway passages. The pharyngometer is the first accurate, non-invasive, yet cost-effective screening technique to identify patients at risk for OSA.

During the test, the patient is asked to breathe into a tube. Sound waves travel through the mouth into the throat area and are then reflected back and measured. The equipment records the information in the form of a graph that is then interpreted by the dentist.

The patient is awake and alert at all times. This initial screening can be accomplished in as little as five minutes and is easy and quick.

Pharyngometry/Rhinometry offers to the dentist and the patient the first non-invasive, three dimensional view of the pharyngeal (throat) and nasal airways using sound waves much like sonar on a submarine.

With this unique equipment, the dental sleep professional can:

1. See if a patient has a narrow airway and/or collapsible airway (these are indications of possible sleep apnea).
2. Determine if the patient's airway responds positively to vertical and/or anterior (forward) positioning of the mandible (lower jaw), which shows if an oral appliance will have a positive effect on the airway. If not, the appliance would not be appropriate at this time.
3. Evaluate whether the nasal airway is blocked by mucous and/or structural damage since this can be part of the snoring noise.
4. Determine the proper positioning for an oral appliance. With the use of this state-of-theart equipment, the sleep professional does not guess at oral appliance positioning. He can actually prescribe the correct appliance to treat the snoring and/or apneic condition.

Both Pharyngometry and Rhinometry measurements have been verified by endoscopy, CT and MRI scanning with less time and money involved. A print out of the test result is made for medical specialists. The dentist may recommend a sleep study be performed by a physician or sleep clinic either before or after' screening, or as a follow-up to delivery of the sleep appliance.

These screening tests are extremely effective when used before surgery and in evaluating relief of nasal obstruction after surgery. Along with the pulmonologist or sleep doctor, sleep dentistry brings effective "team management" to the patient to minimize or correct the problem.