Treatment of Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea, the cessation of breathing during sleep, is a common problem that affects both adults and children. Certain sleep apnea types can be treated by your dentist or oral surgeon. Your doctor may also be a part of the diagnosis and treatment.
The National Institutes of Health estimate that more than 12 million Americans have sleep apnea, most often undetected or misdiagnosed. In fact, conservative estimates suggest that only 16 percent of sleep apnea sufferers receive treatment.
Untreated sleep apnea affects your well-being. Sleep apnea may contribute to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and erectile dysfunction, as well as to memory and concentration impairment. Since sleep apnea reduces the quality of your sleep and contributes to daytime sleepiness, driving becomes more dangerous. In fact, sleep apnea is a leading cause of car accidents.
TYPES OF SLEEP APNEA
Sleep apnea occurs in three forms:
Obstructive sleep apnea is an airway blockage caused by a genetic abnormality such as excessive tissue in the back of the tongue, throat or nose.
Central sleep apnea results when the brain fails to send proper signals to muscles responsible for breathing.
Mixed sleep apnea (also called complex sleep apnea) is diagnosed when both central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea are present.
Your dentist may be able to correct obstructive sleep apnea by fitting you with a dental appliance that is worn during the night. If your sleep apnea is caused by the tongue resting on the airway, a tongue-retaining device can correct the problem. Sleep apnea caused by the incorrect positioning of the jaw may be treated with a device inserted into the mouth or strapped around the head to adjust the jaw’s positioning. Dental devices worn inside the mouth to treat sleep apnea look like athletic mouth guards. They are removable and worn only at night.
If sleep apnea is caused by excess tissue growth on the tongue or in the back of the throat, the overgrowth may be surgically removed to resolve the blockage. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons and ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors are experienced in performing such operations. However, dental professionals trained in laser dentistry also may perform the procedure.
SLEEP APNEA SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Although you may be aware that your sleep is disturbed, more likely your symptoms will be noticed first by family members. The two most commonly identified sleep apnea symptoms are:
- Gasping for air or choking during sleep.
- Loud snoring.
The inability to breathe properly often results in sudden awakenings throughout the night that interrupt your sleep and prevent you from feeling refreshed throughout the day. As a result, you might find yourself struggling to stay awake during the day or feeling irritable and depressed. Other signs that you may be experiencing sleep apnea include:
- Painful and inexplicable headaches in the morning.
- Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth.
- Memory problems and difficulty concentrating.
- Urinating frequently throughout the night.
It is important to note that the presence of one or more of these signs and symptoms does not confirm that you have sleep apnea. You may be a heavy snorer or urinate frequently throughout the night for reasons other than sleep apnea. To be sure of your diagnosis, consult with your dentist or doctor to undergo professional evaluation.
At Atrium Dental we can send to get a sleep study to determine if you have sleep apnea. If you have mild case of sleep apnea we can fit you for a Thornton Adjustable Positioner® (TAP®). The TAP is a simple, patient-friendly treatment solution for snoring and sleep apnea. The TAP holds the lower jaw in a forward position so that it does not fall open during the night and cause the airway to collapse. It maintains a clear airway to reduce snoring and improve breathing.
The unique design allows the patient to fine-tune his/her treatment at home and work with the clinician to achieve the best results. Patients are empowered to manage the degree of lower jaw protrusion over as many nights as it takes to achieve the optimal treatment position. The TAP has a single point of central adjustment, which prevents uneven bilateral adjustment that can create an irregular bite and discomfort.
The TAP has over a 95% success rate. It is the key to a snore-free, restful night of sleep. The TAP also treats sleep apnea without the need for surgery, a mask, or medication. The TAP is recognized as the market leader in oral appliances for snoring and sleep apnea and is currently prescribed by over 7,000 dentists worldwide to treat snoring and sleep apnea. In addition, it is the most researched oral appliances on the market with over 30 independent peer reviewed published studies. A simple dental examination is necessary to know if the patient will be able to use an oral appliance.
If you don’t have sleep apnea, but you snore you can be fitted for silent night or EMA device, which will help you stop snoring.
The EMA® (Elastic Mandibular Advancement) oral appliance is a customized removable appliance created for the noninvasive treatment of snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The appliance is designed to both advance the mandible and open the bite to allow for less restricted airflow during sleep.
Come in to our office at Atrium Dental for a free consult for snoring or sleep apnea.