Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
Sleep apnea is a condition of irregular breathing while asleep. This irregular breathing takes place when one falls asleep and the muscles in the back of the throat, primarily the tongue, loosen and then collapse obstructing the airway. This blockage in the airway results in an “apnea” which literally means a “cessation of breathing”. People with severe sleep apnea can stop breathing up to 30 times per hour!
The body’s attempt to breathe with an obstructed airway is what leads to snoring. This loud and obnoxious snoring is what OSA is most commonly known for. However, what most do not realize is that sleep apnea can lead to a number of other adverse medical side effects. Cardiac problems, hypertension and depression are just a few among the slew of problems that can arise from leaving obstructive sleep apnea untreated.
In addition to loud snoring and further medical complications sleep apnea also leaves the sufferer feeling exhausted during the day. This extreme daytime fatigue is something that can be very dangerous, especially for people commuting to work each day through rush hour traffic and also for those working with heavy machinery for living. Each year thousands of automobile accidents are attributed to people driving tired; perhaps many lives could have been saved if people got treatment for the sleep apnea they were unknowingly struggling with.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
There are three primary treatment options available to people suffering from OSA these are: CPAP therapy, Oral Appliance Therapy, and Oral Surgery.
The majority of the time people begin treatment with CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). CPAP therapy consists of wearing a facemask to sleep at night. This facemask is attached to a machine that forces air into the airway; thus resulting in the airway remaining open and therefore no apnea occurring. CPAP is considered the most successful treatment option, as no other option works for extreme cases of apnea. However, most people will at some point within the first six months of treatment discontinue using their CPAP. The reason being is because for many the facemask is uncomfortable and also noisy.
After realizing that CPAP may not be for them, sufferers of OSA start looking for alternative treatment options. The most popular alternative to CPAP is oral appliance therapy. Oral appliance therapy is typically administered through a highly trained dentist in the field of Dental Sleep Medicine.
A dentist can craft an oral appliance (mouthpiece) that is to be worn during sleep. The function of this appliance is to keep the airway open, much like a CPAP; however, an oral appliance goes about it in a much more tolerable fashion. The appliance will work by ensuring the tongue stays in place and does not collapse onto the airway. These devices are called Tongue Retaining Devices (TRD), the other oral appliance is a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD), these work by slightly pushing the jaw forward which works to keep the airway open as well. Your sleep apnea doctor will figure out which device will be best suited for you. Many people report that if they knew of oral appliance therapy from the beginning they would of completely skipped CPAP therapy!
For many putting in a mouthpiece at night to treat their OSA is a lot more manageable than putting on a mask that pumps air down their throat.
Oral surgery is also an option, however many opt to not go down this route. The most common sleep apnea surgical procedure entails having staples put into the back of one’s throat, which understandably is something most people will steer clear from.
How Can We Help You?
Here at Elite Dental Arts, Dr. Nick M Mobilia offers highly successful sleep apnea treatment through oral appliance therapy. Dr. Mobilia has been trained to treat people through his advanced continuing education course on Dental Sleep Medicine. Call our office today (212)681-0939 and schedule an appointment with Dr. Mobilia and let us help you and your partner get the quality sleep you deserve.