What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
In the U.S. approximately one out of five adults is suffering from OSA. This is a chronic condition that can cause individuals to stop breathing hundreds of times at night, ranging from a few second to more than a minute. OSA occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, allowing soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. This causes repeated breathing pauses which reduce oxygen levels. These breathing pauses are followed by brief awakenings that disturb your sleep. Some common signs of OSA include gasping, snoring, choking sounds, headaches, obesity, daytime tiredness, and grinding your teeth at night.
Is treating OSA Important?
Yes – when your airway is obstructed, your body has to choose between oxygen or sleep, and it will always choose oxygen. When left untreated, OSA contributes to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, acid reflux, ED, extreme fatigue and even death.
How are Snoring and OSA Diagnosed?
To determine if your symptoms (snoring, day time tiredness, etc.) are signs that you have OSA, a sleep study needs to be conducted. Most of the time, sleep studies can be conducted at home. A simple sleep monitoring device is shipped to your home, worn for one to two nights, and shipped back. The data from the device is interpreted by a board certified sleep physician.
Loud and frequent snoring is a common sign of obstructive sleep apnea. Although it is often disruptive to a bed partner or roommate, snoring can be contributing to many destructive disease processes not to mention causing significant daytime tiredness. Alcohol, smoking, obesity and nasal obstruction all increase the risk of snoring. Although snoring is more common in men, women too can experience snoring, especially during pregnancy or after menopause.
Oral Appliance Therapy
An oral appliance fits just like a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer, and is only worn while you sleep. Oral appliances open your upper airway by supporting your jaw in a forward position. Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
The process for Oral Appliance Therapy is as follows:
- A sleep study will be conducted – most of the time we can provide an at home sleep study.
- A Board Certified Sleep Physician will analyze your sleep study data and if applicable, write you a prescription for a custom-made oral appliance.
- Return to our office for a fitting and fabrication of the appliance.
Making and Fitting Your Oral Appliance
Once a diagnosis is confirmed and the physician prescribes treatment for a sleep appliance, you will return to our clinic for impressions and models of your teeth to be made and sent out to a dental lab. Once the appliance is created, you’ll return to ensure the appliance fits correctly. At this appointment, we will adjust the appliance to maximize its comfort and effectiveness as well as give you instructions on home care and maintenance.
Many medical insurance plans cover oral appliance therapy – call our office for details!
Oral Appliance Therapy vs. CPAP
An oral appliance offers 70% the efficacy of a positive pressure device (CPAP). An oral appliance contributes to having more energy during the day, more restful sleep, as well as warding off many diseases. Most patients prefer an oral appliance over CPAP because it is easy to wear, easy to care for, portable, and doesn’t make the noise that a CPAP machine does.