FRESNO, California - Sometimes the lines can be blurred when it comes to medical care. Many dentists now collaborate with physicians.
The dentist's view extends beyond your mouth. Snoring can ruin a peaceful night of sleep, especially if you are on the listening end.
Scott Drake, of Fresno, never thought he would find a solution to his snoring problem at his dentist's office. He thought Dr. Shawn Anderson only handled fillings and root canals.
More dentists are taking a closer look at their patient's air passages.
Dr. Anderson explained,"The bottom line is nobody should really be snoring."
Dr. Anderson completed a sleep medicine residency at UCLA so when Drake was diagnosed with sleep apnea he suggested he try a mouth appliance before using a CPAP machine.
"Woke up. My mouth was not dry and I could tell I had not been snoring. I had been sleeping much sounder," said Drake.
Anderson says the mouthpiece repositions the lower jaw.
"By us moving the jaw forward with the tongue and the oral appliance we are moving all the tissue that potentially could collapse into the airway," said Dr. Anderson.
Drake said, "It apparently opens up the airway in the back of my throat."
Anderson says if he sees something he is obligated to talk to his patient about it.
"We dentists we do not make a diagnosis. We simply refer the patient to a sleep physician."
Sleep apnea patients either go to a sleep center or take home a device to measure how many times they stop breathing during the night. A board-certified physician makes the actual diagnosis.
Dr. Anderson said, "Sometimes they'll lean towards the CPAP machine as a first line because it's been known as the gold standard in medicine and then as an alternative, we do have oral appliances."
"I was surprised that Dr. Anderson was involved with that area at all," said Drake.
The mouthpiece has worked so far for Scott.
"My wife stopped complaining about my snoring."
Though he is awaiting results on his latest test.
"If this is working as well as we think it is we'll just stay with it."
Before any work is done dental assistants take blood pressure readings.
"We're about not just the teeth and gums. We're about the whole body and we want to have those conversations with patients," Dr. Anderson said.
To help make sure they are not losing any sleep over a health concern.
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