This is one of those rare times that two of my my passions, dentistry and mental health awareness, interconnect.

I am spending the weekend at the annual conference for the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM). I’ll have more to write as a wrap up on my professional page, Axiom Orthodontic Studios, but one of my biggest takeaways is how dental sleep medicine (DSM) and mental health interconnect.

In short, if you suffer from depression or anxiety, get checked out by your doctor or dentist for sleep apnea.

1 in 5 Americans suffer from some degree of sleep apnea. 80% of those go untreated. That’s about 25 million Americans.

Numerous studies show the connection between a good night’s sleep and mental health. I’m learning a lot more this weekend. A person can have sleep apnea and never know. It can sort of be like being choked multiple times per night. In extreme cases, it can happen up to 45 times per minute.

On average, a partner of someone with sleep apnea also loses about an hour’s sleep each night.

A sleep study, along with simple measures, can vastly improve someone’s life.

Everybody’s mind goes to the gold standard of sleep apnea, the CPAP. Many, though, cannot tolerate it. It has a great effective rate but only 50% of those using it report they are able to tolerate it so they don’t wear it. One team leader mentioned her husband threw it across the room one night and the dent is still in the wall.

Other devices are more popular and much more tolerable. Personally, I wear the D-SAD every night. It is a MAD, Mandibular Advancement Device. It works by a very simple principle. It advances the lower jaw a little bit, opening the airway.

It did take some getting used to. I’d guess that it took me about two weeks? I was taking it out or spitting it out in the middle of the night. Now, I sleep with it every night with no problem and have been doing so for about three years.

It even just got better. A side effect, for me, was dry mouth. I mentioned it to a doctor and she pointed me to Amazon where I bought Blotene. It’s a spray that I spray on my tongue and run around my mouth before putting in the D-SAD. Dry mouth problem solved.

Check out the video below of me wearing my D-SAD.

Doctors have reported patients coming back in before their scheduled visit (never a good sign) and hugging them. The patients report that their lives have been changed, their marriages saved, and they have so much more energy to do the things they love to do.

Depression and anxiety are common co-comorbidities of sleep apnea, of not getting enough rest or not enough quality sleep. Recent advances in technology, from MAD’s to home sleep study kits, can have a huge impact on someone’s life.

If you suffer from depression or anxiety, I strongly recommend checking out this avenue. It may help. A lot.

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