Obstructive sleep apnea begins with the more commonly known condition, snoring. When a patient sleeps, air travels through the nose, down the throat, and into the lungs. The narrowest part of the airway is at the junction where the tongue and the back of the throat all compete with the same airspace. When the patient is awake, the muscles in the back of the throat are tight, keeping the airway open.
When the patient falls asleep, the soft tissues of the mouth and throat relax, which collapses the airway and creates pauses in breathing – pauses that can last from seconds to minutes in some cases. Eventually the uvula and surrounding tissue begin to vibrate and the patient begins to snore. Snoring is a common condition well known for its disruptive side effects to both the snorer and their bed-partner.
Due to fragmented sleep, patients who snore (and their bed partners) often wake up feeling fatigued and unrefreshed. When snoring becomes so severe that the airway becomes obstructed, it deprives the body and vital organs of oxygen; this condition is known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea. About half of all snorers have Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
If the body doesn’t get enough air on intake, it experiences harmful drops in blood-oxygen levels and eventually forces the patient to wake from sleep to reopen the airway. These arousals from sleep can occur many times throughout the night, preventing the body from entering a normal sleep cycle.
Approximately 40 million Americans suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea and less than 10% of these people have been diagnosed. The damaging effects of oxygen deprivation and fragmented sleep caused by Obstructive Sleep Apnea have been well studied.
- heart attack
- congestive heart failure
- high blood pressure
- metabolic syndrome
- weight gain
- mood swings
- acid reflux
- sexual dysfunction
- work- and driving-related incidences
Sleep Apnea incites a very high risk of heart attack. Most patients are unaware of the long term damage taking place while they are asleep. Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea places patients at a much greater risk of heart attack than obesity, hypertension, and smoking. Sleep Apnea patients are 23.3 times more likely to have a heart attack.
A comfortable and effective solution to treat obstructive sleep apnea is a custom-made, removable sleep appliance that a dentist trained in obstructive sleep apnea can provide. Once the appliance is in place, the lower jaw is prevented from falling back, keeping the tongue forward and the airway open. This will usually reduce or eliminate snoring and sleep apnea, providing the body with deep, restful sleep.
We offer a variety of services and customized solutions to ensure that each patient receives the most effective treatment:
- Oral appliance treatment
- Oral examinations and risk assessment
What is an Oral Appliance?
An Oral Appliance is a lightweight, comfortable, mouth guard-like device which is worn on the upper and lower teeth during sleep. It functions to gently advance the lower jaw forward which prevents the soft tissue of the mouth from collapsing during sleep, maintaining an open airway.
An FDA-Approved Therapy
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has approved the Oral Appliance as first-line treatment for patients with mild or moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or for those who have failed attempts at using CPAP therapy.
Is the Oral Appliance Effective?
Yes, due to its high degree of comfort and minimally invasive design, studies have found a high rate of compliance with this treatment, approaching 80%. Follow up studies have also been encouraging, with most patients seeing a decrease in obstructed breathing and reporting an overall improvement in daytime fatigue and quality of life.