Obstructive Sleep Apnea
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is partially or completely obstructed while they are sleeping. It is a very serious condition that affects at least 18 million adults in America, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine- yet goes untreated more than 85% of the time. This interruption in sleep limits the amount of oxygen going to two major organs, the heart and the brain.
This disease affects your energy, mental awareness, and your long-term health.
If left untreated, sleep apnea may contribute to a number if health problems, including:
- Traffic and Workplace Accidents
- Sexual Disfunction
- High Blood Pressure
- Cardiac Problems
- Increased insulin Resistance
- Memory and Psychological Problems
Fortunately, the symptoms of this disease are very easy to recognize.
These symptoms include loud, persistent snoring and gasping for breath while sleeping. People who suffer from sleep apnea may also report frequent trips to the bathroom at night, headaches in the morning, excessive fatigue throughout the day, and poor concentration. Studies have shown that people suffering from this disease are more prone to auto accidents. In 2000, there were more than 800,000 auto accident cases alone associated with sleep apnea and day time sleepiness.
Treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea includes a wide range of options. All treatment plans should start with a sleep study conducted by a certified sleep center. With this information, treatment recommendations can be made. Often an oral appliance designed and fabricated by a dentist is a logical first step. And, for more than 50% of patients, this modality improves their condition. In other cases, CPAP machines and even surgery may be required to treat sleep apnea.
During a dental examination, our dental team can screen for signs and symptoms of sleep apnea and make a recommendation for you to see a physician specializing in sleep medicine. Dr. Colleen Lam is a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and will work very closely with you and your sleep doctor to determine what treatment modality will be best for you.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or more commonly referred to as “CPAP therapy” is often prescribed to patients with obstructive sleep apnea to help them breathe during sleep by using positive air pressure to avoid the airway from collapsing. CPAP is an effective form of treatment for OSA, but the CPAP can be uncomfortable for some patients. For those patients, an oral appliance or a mandibular advancement device may be an alternative and effective form of treatment.
Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD)
Many patients diagnosed with OSA have a hard time wearing a CPAP. An oral appliance is easy to wear, comfortable, and doesn’t require a noisy machine. For patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea, an oral appliance can be worn to advance their lower jaw forward keeping their airway open during sleep. In 2006, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine said the first line of defense for mild to moderate sleep apnea is an oral appliance. In fact, some severe cases require a combination of CPAP and MAD.
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