Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is gaining tremendous attention as an acute public health concern. A study by the Institute of Medicine reports that 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from disorders of sleep and wakefulness. The long-term effects of sleep loss has been associated with increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, dementia, GERD, heart attack and stroke. One in five car accidents are associated with driver sleepiness. .
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep. Breathing pauses can last anywhere from several seconds to minutes, and happen as often as 30 times or more per hour. There are two main types of this disorder; Central Sleep Apnea which occurs when the brain fails to send important signals to the breathing muscles, and Obstructive Sleep Apnea which occurs when air cannot flow through the nose or mouth even though the body is still trying to breathe. Obstructive sleep apnea is far more prevalent and easily treatable by a board certified dentist.
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- Daytime sleepiness
- Headache upon awakening
- Gasping or choking at night
- Poor memory
Reason for treating sleep apnea
It is very important to seek medical attention if sleep apnea is suspected. A sufferer can completely stop breathing numerous times per hour, and this can quickly turn into a deadly situation. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue lying at the back of the patient’s throat collapses into the airway. The tongue then falls into the back of the throat which tightens the blockage and prevents oxygen from entering the lungs.
Because sleep apnea causes carbon dioxide levels to skyrocket in the blood and oxygen levels to decrease, the heart has to pump harder and faster to compensate for the lack of oxygen. Sleep apnea patients can technically “die” many times each night.
What does sleep apnea treatment involve?
Treatment of Sleep Apnea requires a full team approach. Dentists cannot make a diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The first step in being treated for snoring or sleep apnea is to obtain an evaluation by a sleep physician who will provide a formal diagnosis and prescription based on your sleep study. After consultation, Dr. Berley will determine if you are a good candidate for oral appliance therapy. This will include a thorough history and head, neck and throat evaluation to assess your situation. He will correlate this information along with your sleep study to determine your treatment options.
Oral Appliance therapy has come to the forefront as an extremely effective, scientifically tested treatment option for Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
See the link below for more information regarding specific oral appliances.
Sleep Apnea Appliances