According to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), 12-18 million adults in the United States have obstructive sleep apnea, which causes the individual to stop breathing up to hundred of times a night for anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute. These apnea events are often associated with reduced levels of oxygen in the blood. If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase the risk for serious health conditions such as stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression, congestive heart failure and impotence.
A polysomography test (PSG) typically consists of an all night recording test that measures sleep stages, heartbeat, breathing, electrocardiogram, blood oxygenation and arm and leg movements. There is also home sleep test (HST) which can be done at home and the data is analyzed by a board certified sleep physician.
If you have any of these signs, your provider may recommend additional testing for potential sleep apnea:
Your dentist will complete a comprehensive evaluation of the face, head and neck and the upper airway.
Your provider may recommend lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol and sedatives, avoiding sleeping on your back, reducing nasal congestion, surgical interventions, continuous positive pressure machines and mandibular advancement devices.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is a mask that seals the mouth or nose, which is connected to a device that provides air pressure to prevent the collapse of the airway, which allows for more effective nighttime breathing.
Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) can help for the treatment of sleep apnea. For this condition we use a mandibular advancement device, which is a mouth guard-like device worn only during sleep. The mandibular advancement device helps maintain an open airway by supporting the jaw in a forward position and preventing the airway from collapsing.
According to the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), up to 50% of sleep apnea patients are not able to tolerate the CPAP. For many individuals, oral appliances are more comfortable to wear than a CPAP mask. Oral appliances are comfortable, portable, easy to wear and care for and no power is needed. It is important to remember that these are custom fit by a dentist and require adjustments over time to ensure maximum effectiveness.
AADSM recommends oral appliance therapy for people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. It can also be recommended for severe apnea patients unable to tolerate CPAP.
Side effects of oral appliances are generally minor. These include tooth discomfort, muscle discomfort, excessive salivation and occasionally joint discomfort. Most of these symptoms improve in a few weeks.
Sleep apnea is a condition where your airway is blocked while you sleep, reducing the amount of oxygen delivered to your body and causing impaired sleep, which can lead to serious health risks. People with sleep apnea are often very sleepy during the day, may snore loudly and have episodes of gasping or choking, pauses in breathing and sudden awakenings.
There are three types of sleep apnea:
Most people that suffer from sleep apnea snore, but there is a small percentage of people with sleep apnea that that do not snore. If you feel tired and are sleepy during the daytime, you should consider an evaluation for sleep apnea.
Women experiencing fatigue and daytime sleepiness should consider evaluation and testing for sleep apnea. Although men tend to suffer from sleep apnea more often than women, the number of women suffering from sleep apnea increases around menopause. Female hormones can protect against this problem, but as they decline at menopause the risk of sleep apnea increases and problems associated with sleep apnea can worsen.
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