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Dental Devices Offer a Simple Solution for Sleep

Millions could benefit from a slight forward jaw adjustment

BLOOMINGTON, Ind., Feb. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- A dentist with membership in the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine is advocating for the medical community to provide relief to the one in 15 Americans who suffer alarming and sometimes deadly sleep apnea by using a common and simple solution as a first line of treatment.

"It's just amazing that a few millimeters of adjustment, bringing your lower jaw forward, could add years to your life and millions of hours of productivity to the American workforce," said Dr. David Lawler. "Because daytime sleepiness is one of the major symptoms of this malady, going without treatment can create a dangerous situation."


Dangerous situations such as falling asleep behind the wheel - something that 37 percent of Americans admit to doing, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Of those polled by the NHTSA, 60 percent admitted falling asleep while driving on an interstate-type highway with posted speeds of 55 mph or higher. The NHTSA states that those with unrecognized sleep disorders are among the drivers at highest risk.

When it comes to dealing with sleep disorders, dentists may not normally be recognized as the first line of treatment. A new breed of dentists highly trained in sleep medicine are becoming more involved in helping Americans through the use of oral appliances (such as those manufactured by SomnoMed ( )) approved by the Food and Drug Administration to manage serious sleep disorders that are often discounted as simple snoring.

A less invasive alternative to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, which have low compliance rates because of their cumbersome nature, oral appliance therapy involves fitting of a specially designed oral appliance. When worn during sleep, it maintains an open and unobstructed airway in the throat, reducing snoring and allowing the user to breathe normally.

"With the aging of the baby boomer generation in addition to the increase of obesity in the U.S. - two groups traditionally at a higher risk for sleep disorders - there is an increased need to test for sleep apnea," said Dr. Lawler. "Although difficult to diagnose, the ensuing health benefits of treating sleep disorders are remarkable. It can even assist in curing hypertension and aid in the prevention of heart disease and stroke."

Finding a provider:

Resources such as the Sleep Medicine Network ( ) and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine ( ) help patients to locate a dentist who will work together with sleep centers to provide the best possible care in dealing with sleep disorders.

Sidebar: Five Signs of Sleep Apnea

-- Very loud and prolonged bouts of snoring, often accompanied by silent

pauses and gasps for air

-- Excessive daytime sleepiness; falling asleep while you are eating,

talking or driving

-- Waking with an unrefreshed feeling after sleep

-- Having problems with memory and concentration

-- Heartburn or a sour taste in the mouth at night

About Dr. David E. Lawler:

Dr. David E. Lawler is a Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry, serves on the board of the Indiana Society of Sleep Professionals as medical adviser and is a member of the Dental Organization of Sleep Apnea and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Dental Sleep Medicine of Southern Indiana ( ) was founded by Dr. Lawler with a mission to increase public awareness and understanding of the health risks caused by breathing-related sleep disorders and to help those who suffer get restful sleep through effective treatment.

SOURCE Dr. David E. Lawler
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