Drowsy driving report catches America asleep at the wheel

American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine
Thursday, January 17, 2013

Darien, IL – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a new drowsy driving report found that one in 24 drivers has fallen asleep at the wheel in the last 30 days. Reports of falling asleep while driving were most common among adults who showed tell-tale signs of a sleep disorder – such as snoring and unintentionally falling asleep during the day.

“The staggering number of drowsy drivers who reported sleep apnea symptoms tells me that America has a serious problem with undiagnosed and untreated sleep issues,” said Michael Simmons, DMD, American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) board member. “Drowsy driving is a common risk for sleep apnea sufferers, and anyone who has had a drowsy driving episode should be aware of the many symptoms of sleep apnea, as well the health repercussions of the disease.”

According to the AADSM, 12-18 million adults have sleep-related breathing disorders including sleep apnea, yet 80 to 90 percent of cases remain undiagnosed and untreated. In addition, AADSM estimates that nearly 50 percent of diagnosed patients do not comply with or tolerate CPAP – the traditional treatment for sleep apnea which requires sleeping with a machine, mask and tubing.

To address this issue, a growing number of dentists are working with sleep physicians to offer an effective, alternative treatment to CPAP.  Oral appliance therapy uses a “mouth guard-like” device worn only during sleep to maintain an open, unobstructed airway. Oral appliance devices can equal CPAP in effectiveness, and compliance with oral appliance therapy has been shown to be as high as 75 percent in patients using the appliance all seven nights a week.

“Oral appliance therapy is a comfortable treatment solution for thousands of sleep apnea patients who have decided they can not comply with CPAP,” said Simmons. “I’ve used oral appliance therapy to help turn self-reported drowsy driving patients into safer, more alert and happier drivers.”

AADSM recommends oral appliance therapy for people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea who prefer oral appliances to CPAP. Once a patient is diagnosed with primary snoring or obstructive sleep apnea by a board-certified sleep physician, a dentist trained in dental sleep medicine can provide treatment with OAT.  Consumers with sleep apnea or loud and frequent snoring can go to www.LocalSleepDentist.com to find a local dentist trained in oral appliance therapy.

“If you tend to nod off while driving or if a loved one can hear your snores from down the hall, I recommend you get evaluated for sleep apnea right away,” said Dr. Simmons.


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