Sleep Apnea Treatments

Sleep Apnea Treatment

What is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Obstructive sleep apnea is an illness in which the soft tissues at the back of the throat completely close off the airway so that air cannot flow into the lungs. This airway blockage can reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain and the body. When this happens, the brain alerts the muscles in the airway to tighten up and unblock the air passage. As a result, a loud gasp or snort (and often times snoring) is heard, and then normal breathing begins again. This airway blockage causes snoring, snorting and/or gasping for air during sleep.

What are the effects of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea can affect your quality of life in many ways. Those who suffer from sleep apnea may experience problems including, but not limited to, confusion, loss of memory, agitation, depression, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, cardiovascular disease, sexual dysfunction and even acid reflux.

How do I know if I have sleep apnea?

The 6 most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are:

  • Loud snoring
  • Periodic stoppages in breathing
  • Significant daytime sleepiness
  • Restless sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating and poor memory
  • Irritability and/or personality change

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to be evaluated. Your bed partner can tell you if you are suffering from the first two signs. We can do a sleep consultation and evaluation. We work very closely with a network of sleep doctors, ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors and sleep labs. If it appears likely that you have OSA after our consultation and exam, the first step is a referral to a sleep doctor for a sleep study and definitive diagnosis of the extent of your problem. We follow the practice parameters as set forth by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment

  • A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Treatment (CPAP) unit is a device (mask & air blower) that provides constant positive air pressure to keep the air passage open during sleep. This is an excellent treatment, especially for severe obstructive sleep apnea, if the patient can tolerate the treatment.
  • Oral appliance therapy involves using a small, adjustable acrylic device that is custom-made to fit over the patient’s upper and lower teeth (much like a mouth guard) is worn during sleep. The device opens the airway and improves breathing by moving the lower jaw forward. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine states in their Practice Parameters, “An oral appliance for sleep apnea is indicated for use in patients with mild to moderate OSA who prefer them to CPAP therapy or who do not respond to, are not appropriate candidates for, or who fail treatment attempts with CPAP.” Dr. Fishman has had excellent results with may patients diagnosed with severe OSA who are CPAP intolerant.
  • Surgery in the throat area or jaw. Surgery may be very uncomfortable during the recovery and healing process and is not always successful.

The best type of treatment all depends on the severity of the sleep apnea and the patient’s tolerance to treatment. Those with mild or moderate OSA may be treated with oral appliance therapy as the first line of treatment if they prefer it to CPAP. Patients diagnosed with severe OSA most often should try CPAP first. Severe patients who are unable to tolerate CPAP are often candidates for Oral Appliance Therapy.

At Bright Side Dental, Dr. Fishman offers sleep apnea oral appliance therapy treatment with a custom-made sleep apnea mouthpiece for appropriate patients to wear while sleeping. Sometimes treatment involves a combination of therapies, oral appliance and CPAP.

So call today or contact us to set up a consultation and find out if oral appliance therapy is right for you.

For more information regarding the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea, visit these websites:

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