Sleep apnea is a serious and potentially life threatening disorder involving repeated pauses in breathing while asleep. The most common form of this condition is obstructive sleep apnea. This occurs when there is an obstruction of an individual’s airway that interferes with the flow of oxygen through the nose or mouth during sleep. In someone afflicted with obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles of the throat and mouth relax during sleep to the point where they stick the upper airway together and create a blockage that restricts breathing.
The signs and symptoms of this disorder during sleeping hours may include
loud snoring, episodes of breathing cessation, abrupt awakenings, episodes of gasping for air, along with difficulties getting a good night’s sleep. Sometimes the symptoms are mild and not obvious. An individual with sleep apnea will exhibit problems during the day as well. Sleep apnea can lead to a morning headache, excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, irritability and even depression. Sometimes the symptoms are more subtle, and the dentist finds signs of grinding or worn down teeth, clenching, broken teeth, bone loss, deep pockets, and sore muscles in the head, neck and mouth. In children the symptoms may be bed wetting, attention deficit problems and/or hyperactivity. Asthma and allergies are also common symptoms.
A sleep study is typically conducted to determine the severity of the disorder. The results of this study along with other medical findings will play a role in determining the recommended therapy. The most common form of medical therapy is a CPAP machine that is worn when sleeping. This device provides a steady stream of pressurized air into the respiratory system through a mask. However, recent studies have shown that less than 50% of the people who have CPAP machines actually use them. Those machines are not the most comfortable options for adults.
In situations of mild to moderate sleep apnea, a dental appliance may be deemed the appropriate treatment. Worn in a similar fashion to a mouthguard or an orthodontic retainer, it is designed to help keep the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat from collapsing, thereby enabling the airway to stay open during sleep. An oral appliance is easy to wear, easy to care for, comfortable, and portable. Oral appliances are individually fabricated, and customized for both maximum effectiveness and comfort.
And did we mention that we will also file your medical insurance as a courtesy? In many cases, medical insurance will pay for the sleep apnea dental device. The device has FDA approval as second line therapy behind CPAP.
Dr. Brenner is a Center of Excellence for treating Craniofacial Pain and Sleep Breathing Disorders. She is qualified to take her Specialty Boards in this area. And she has been very successfully treating patients now for several years. She is one of 63 Centers of Excellence around the world.
Call our office today to schedule a consultation for Sleep Apnea Treatment.