Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the second most common sleep disorder and it affects about 30 million adults in the United States. Patients with this condition can stop breathing hundreds of times a night for anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute.
Sleep apnea is a serious chronic condition that occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, allowing soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. This repeated stop in breathing leads to a reduction in oxygen levels.
Common signs of Sleep Apnea:
- snoring and gasping or choking sounds during sleep
- Daytime sleepiness
- Memory and concentration dysfunction
- Gastro-esophageal reflux
- Behavioral irritability
- Chronic fatigue
- Road traffic accident
- Waking with dry mouth, or irritated throat
Risk factors for sleep apnea:
• Age (above age 60)
• Male gender
• Postmenopausal women
• Large neck circumference ≥ 16 inches
• History of atrial fibrillation
• Upper airway anatomic obstruction
Why treat OSA?
Getting treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is incredibly important to your systemic health. Untreated sleep apnea increases your risk for serious health problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Chronic acid reflux
- Erectile dysfunction
Severe, untreated sleep apnea even increases your risk of death!
How do I know if I have OSA?
A sleep physician will determine if you have obstructive sleep apnea. After you complete a sleep study at a sleep center or a home sleep apnea test, a sleep specialist will interpret the data and determine if you have obstructive sleep apnea.
How is OSA Treated?
There are several treatment options available depending on each patient's specific needs. These options include:
Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. An oral appliance is worn in the mouth only while you sleep and fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. Oral appliances support your jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway.
Many patients consider a sleep apnea appliance to be more comfortable to wear than a CPAP mask. Oral appliances also are quiet, portable and easy to care for.
If you and your doctor decide that oral appliance therapy is the best treatment option for you, then your doctor will write a prescription for you to receive a custom-made sleep apnea appliance. You also will receive a referral to a qualified dentist who can provide oral appliance therapy. More than 100 oral appliances have received FDA clearance. Your dentist will recommend the device that is best for you. Oral appliance therapy is covered by many medical insurance plans.