The Sleep Apnea Association estimates that there are 22 million Americans suffering from sleep apnea – many with undiagnosed conditions. A new study warns that these individuals may be twice as likely to suffer a workplace injury compared to those who do not have breathing problems at night.
A new report published in the medical journal Thorax emphasized the dangers of going through life with untreated or poorly treated sleep apnea. Not only were sleep apnea sufferers twice as likely to suffer workplace injuries, but they were also three times more likely to fall, sustain a burn injury, or get into a commercial car crash. Overall, 10 percent of sleep apnea sufferers filed for disability from an on-the-job accident (compared to 5.4 percent of people with other sleep issues).
The University of British Columbia Hospital Sleep Laboratory looked at more than 1,200 patients – 994 people with the condition and 242 without – from May 2003 to July 2011. They compared their studies with data taken from workers’ compensation provider WorkSafeBC. Workers needed to take at least one disability day in order for the injury to constitute as a “workplace injury.”
An even more troubling study published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine reported that commercial truck drivers who did not use their CPAP machines were four to five times more likely to be involved in a serious (and preventable) accident.
In response to increasing concerns about the risks and costs associated with untreated sleep apnea, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed requiring all rail workers and commercial vehicle operators to undergo sleep apnea screening as part of their comprehensive physicals.
Compliance is a major issue with sleep apnea sufferers who use CPAP machines. Many people do not like the invasiveness of wearing a large mask over their nose and mouth at night. It is also difficult for soldiers deployed overseas or those who travel extensively for work to lug around the cumbersome machine.
Dentists have an alternative. Oral appliance therapy involves sleeping with a small, sport-style mouth-guard that keeps the mouth in a neutral position, with airways open. One oral appliance user, Robert Thomas, admitted that the first night of using the appliance was “awkward” at first.
He explains, “I woke up in the morning next to a large pile of drool and felt a bit of soreness in my jaw.” However, the drooling resolved the second night and the jaw soreness disappeared by the fourth night. “While it did take a few days to become accustomed to wearing it, doing so was well worth the effort and I was thrilled with the results,” he concluded.
“To help you determine if a mouth-guard may be a simple, insurance-covered fix for your nighttime breathlessness, gasping, coughing, and snoring, we’re offering a free sleep apnea consultation in the NYC / Long Island area,” say Dr. Elliot and Dr. Nick at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry.
Fitting for an oral appliance is quick and easy. The team performs a routine oral exam, takes x-rays ad takes impressions of the teeth to create the custom-made mouthpiece right here in office. Small adjustments may need to be made within the first few weeks to ensure a perfect fit, but generally the device is easy to use.
Contact our Suffolk County dental practice today at 631.296.0602.
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