People around the U.S. rely on truck drivers to deliver materials and goods around the country. This is especially true today as the majority of Americans stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. What many people don’t know about truck drivers is that a large portion of them suffer from sleep apnea, which can result in deadly accidents if it’s left untreated. At Bite Align, we help provide our patients suffering from sleep apnea with comfortable sleep apnea treatments like oral appliances.
Truck Drivers with Sleep Apnea
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), nearly 28% of truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea. The male-dominated industry combined with growing obesity rates in truck drivers can explain why the sleep apnea rate is so high among truck drivers. Truck drivers sit for the majority of the day and usually don’t have many healthy food options on the road.
The FMCSA states that those with mild sleep apnea can still qualify for truck driving jobs. They recommend that the truck drivers visit a medical examiner to determine if they’re safe to drive a vehicle. Currently, several trucking companies require each truck driver to get tested for sleep apnea. Some companies also promote healthy eating options for truck drivers to prevent obesity rates.
The Dangers of Untreated Sleep Apnea
One of the biggest dangers with sleep apnea in truck drivers is that if it goes untreated, it’s likely the driver will suffer cognitive impairment. They will be less aware of what they’re doing and even fall asleep at the wheel which can cause terrible accidents. 16% of car accidents occur due to drowsy driving. Unfortunately, many cases aren’t treated due to the high costs to get tested and for treatment. Some trucking companies will cover the costs but that’s not always the case.
Treating Sleep Apnea with the DNA Appliance
One treatment for sleep apnea we highly recommend to truck drivers and our patients is the DNA appliance alongside orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT). Wearing the appliance at night alongside OMT will open the airway. The combined approach tones and expands the muscles that support the airway. Over time, your muscles will grow stronger, the jaw will expand and you may even be able to stop treatment altogether because your body fixes the initial problem that caused sleep apnea in the first place.
If you’re in need of sleep apnea treatment and would like a treatment that may ultimately cure your problems, please contact Bite Align for a consultation with Dr. Jennifer Stafford at our Fort Atkinson office by calling (920) 563-7323.