Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by frequently interrupted breathing while you sleep. It is caused by a full or partial blocking of the airway. When you are asleep, the throat muscles may relax too much, causing the lower jaw to fall backward and partially or fully block the airway. Your breathing is constantly impeded as you breathe in and out at night.
In many patients, the tissues at the back of the throat vibrate during sleep apnea, resulting in loud snoring. When the airway is blocked, your body responds by temporarily halting breathing until your system startles you awake to allow you to breathe. This may happen multiple times throughout the night without your awareness, causing you to pause in breathing, then sharply breathe in. This can happen for a few seconds or minutes and may happen dozens or hundreds of times a night.
Sleep apnea can have dangerous consequences, including high blood pressure, heart problems, excessive fatigue, liver problems, inability to concentrate, and more. Proper treatment of sleep apnea is essential for good health.
How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?
Your partner or family may be the first to notice something is wrong. If your snoring is so loud it disrupts sleep for your loved ones, it may be a sign of sleep apnea. Your partner may also notice that you frequently stop breathing for a few seconds and suddenly breathe again throughout the night. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lower sex drive
- Morning headaches
- Memory loss
If you have one or more of these symptoms, it is essential to schedule an appointment with our office to determine the severity of your sleep apnea. We will work with you to develop a treatment program that works for you and your family.
Oral Appliance Therapy for Sleep Apnea
Until recently, most patients with sleep apnea had to rely on Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines. These used a mask covering the nose and mouth to deliver a steady oxygen flow, forcing the throat open for breathing. However, many people are not comfortable with CPAP machines because they are uncomfortable, noisy, bulky, and difficult to take when traveling.
Recent developments in oral appliance design have resulted in several options for patients that are simpler, more comfortable, and just as effective. At Orbis Dental Group, we offer customized oral appliance therapy for our patients with sleep apnea with excellent results.
Comfort and Convenience
An oral appliance for sleep apnea works by adjusting the position of the lower jaw and moving it forward so that the airway in the back of the throat is not blocked. The oral device, sometimes called a splint, is custom fitted to your mouth and is comfortable to wear while sleeping. There is no noise, oxygen hose, or headgear to keep the appliance in place. The appliance is simply cleaned and stored in a small tray when you are awake and can travel with you wherever you go.
Long-Term Impact of Sleep Apnea
Left untreated, sleep apnea has a detrimental effect on your health and well-being. Lack of restful sleep can lead to concentration difficulties, exhaustion, hypertension, and depression. Chronic sleep apnea affects body physiology, resulting in an increased risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, increased accidents due to inability to focus, accidents, and death. A higher incidence of obesity, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction are also linked to sleep apnea.
Consultation for Sleep Apnea
If you believe you have sleep apnea or your doctor has already diagnosed you, an appointment with our office is the next step. We will explain your treatment options in detail and develop a treatment plan. If you have not yet had a sleep study, we recommend you ask your doctor to schedule a sleep study and send the results to our office. Once we know the severity of your sleep apnea, we can begin working toward a resolution.
An initial consultation with one of our dentists will include:
- An oral exam
- Consultation regarding sleep apnea and its effects on your
- Discussion and evaluation of your sleep habits
- Review of treatment options
If you have mild to moderate sleep apnea, we can design and create an oral appliance that will be ready in just a few days. Once your oral appliance arrives, you will return to our office to ensure a proper fit and make any minor adjustments. Uninterrupted, restful sleep will be the result.