Sleep Apnea Information and Treatment Options
What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a serious chronic sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s airway collapses and prevents oxygen flow to the lungs. Those that suffer with OSA can stop breathing hundreds of times during the night. These periods of time without adequate oxygen reaching the brain cause the body to arouse enough to begin breathing again. This repeated cycle – sleep, blocked airway, and brain arousal to begin breathing again – ensures that you never get a full restful night of sleep and places your body under constant stress. Furthermore, OSA can cause or put you at risk for other serious health consequences.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
The main 3 symptoms are: loud snoring, fighting daytime sleepiness (like at work or while driving), and high blood pressure.
Other signs include: large neck size (17 inches or greater for men and 16 inches or greater for women), being overweight, nasal obstruction, large tongue or tonsils, clenching/grinding teeth at night
Why should I be concerned?
Obstructive sleep apnea increases a patient’s risk for heart attack and stroke more than ANY OTHER single factor – including smoking and obesity. OSA is associated with other serious health problems such as: chronic sleepiness, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, acid reflux (GERD), depression, morning headaches, and impotence.
How can OSA be treated?
The gold standard of OSA treatment is the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. This device delivers a continuous flow of oxygen which prevents the collapse of the airway. While very effective at treating OSA, many patients fail to be compliant due to the machine’s noise and bulkiness.
For mild to moderate cases of OSA, a simple dental device may be an effective treatment option. In our office, we use several different MRD (mandibular repositioning device) options to treat sleep apnea patients. These devices work by gently positioning the bottom jaw forward during sleep, preventing airway blockage.
Examples of options include: