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What is Sleep Apnea?
There are two types of apnea—central and obstructive. Central sleep apnea occurs when there’s an error in brain signaling to airway muscles. Obstructive apnea involves the complete or partial blockage of the airway during sleep, leading to little or no breathing for seconds to minutes at a time. This can occur multiple times a night. Without adequate oxygen, sleep apnea can be dangerous and lead to chronic fatigue, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, severe hypertension and even death.
We Offer the Latest Treatments for Sleep Apnea in Sweetwater
If you have been told that you snore loudly or you experience excessive daytime fatigue even after a full night’s sleep, you may have obstructive sleep apnea, which is also known as OSA. Individuals with this potentially dangerous sleep disorder stop breathing for short periods throughout the night.
For many patients, an oral device can alleviate OSA symptoms, improve sleep quality, and prevent long-term health complications. Call our office today to find out more about our OSA treatment options. Doctors Kim and Quevedo work with medical doctors and sleep physicians to provide our patients with optimal treatment of snoring and OSA. Treatments for OSA include CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines, dental mandibular advancement appliances, weight loss and/or surgeries. Some patients may require a combination of therapies to successfully treat their apnea. While CPAP is considered the gold standard for treatment, many patients can’t tolerate it and don’t use it, thereby negating its benefits.
Should I Be Worried About My Sleep Apnea?
Individuals with OSA often experience excessive daytime fatigue, which can lead to mood changes, difficulty concentrating, and even make it dangerous to drive or perform certain tasks. If not treated, OSA can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and liver problems. It can even affect personal relationships, since the snoring can also keep your sleep partner from getting a good night’s rest. Symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, gasping, choking or pauses in breathing during sleep and high blood pressure. Since restorative sleep is compromised, OSA sufferers often complain of morning headache, clenching/grinding during sleep, awakening with dry mouth or coated tongue, insomnia, fatigue, difficulty with concentration, irritability and depression. Not all patients with sleep apnea will have all of these symptoms, so it’s important to address any of them with your healthcare providers.
How Do I Know If I Am Experiencing Sleep Apnea Symptoms?
Sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder that causes breathing interruptions during sleep. Since it occurs while sleeping, it often goes undiagnosed. The most common symptom of OSA is loud, frequent snoring. Your sleep partner may also notice pauses in your breathing as you sleep, followed by gasping or choking as your breathing resumes. You may wake up with a sore throat or a dry mouth, as well as morning headaches. To properly diagnose and treat sleep apnea, your provider will order an overnight sleep study, also known as a polysomnogram (PSG). The PSG is a diagnostic test that’s performed in a sleep laboratory and interpreted by a sleep physician. In some cases, home sleep tests (HST) may be recommended.
What Are the Most Common Sleep Apnea Causes?
Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles of the throat relax during sleep, causing the airway to narrow, thereby restricting the flow of air. You are more likely to develop OSA if you are male, overweight, have a neck circumference greater than 16 inches, or have other family members with OSA. Being overweight or obese significantly raises the risk of sleep apnea, as extra weight adds pressure on the airway. Advanced age, male gender, poor upper airway anatomy, a small or week chin (retrognathia, micrognathia), genetics, smoking, alcohol, large tongue and menopause are also risk factors. Medical conditions, allergies and anatomical variations can also affect airflow. Inflamed and enlarged tonsils can cause sleep apnea in children. Pregnancy can be associated with sleep apnea due to higher levels of estrogen leading to swelling of mucous membranes and the excessive weight gain during pregnancy.
How Is OSA Diagnosed?
If your doctor or dentist suspects that you have OSA, you may be referred to a sleep center for further evaluation. You will likely be scheduled for an overnight evaluation called nocturnal polysomnography, which uses sensors attached to your body to measure leg movement, breathing patterns, oxygen levels, heart rate, and lung and brain activity as you sleep. Your doctor may also provide you with a version of the test that you can do yourself at home.
What Are My Sleep Apnea Treatment Options?
For some people, losing weight or sleeping on their side can reduce or eliminate their symptoms. If you are still experiencing symptoms even after trying lifestyle modifications, your dentist may recommend a simple dental appliance to alleviate snoring and breathing pauses. Moderate OSA is often treated using a continuous positive airway pressure machine, which is also known as a CPAP. The device delivers air through a mask at a pressure that is higher than the surrounding air so that the airway passages remain open. The device is effective and reliable; however, some patients find the mask uncomfortable and the machine cumbersome.
Surgery may be necessary in advanced cases that do not respond to more conservative treatments. Surgical options include removing excessive tissue at the back of the mouth and top of the throat, removing the tonsils and adenoids, and jaw repositioning. Schedule a consultation with one of our skilled dentists to find out if a custom oral appliance is the right treatment for your OSA symptoms.
How Does a Sleep Apnea Mouthpiece Work?
The device looks similar to the mouthpiece worn by athletes and gently repositions the jaw and tongue so that they do not obstruct your airway as you sleep. The treatment is noninvasive and well tolerated. A dental mandibular advancement appliance is a customized device that’s ideal for mild to moderate OSA patients. It’s worn on the teeth and opens the airway by positioning the lower jaw and tongue in a forward position, thereby preventing collapse and blockage of the upper airway. The other advantages of an oral appliance include management of teeth grinding (bruxism), portability, and freedom of jaw movement.
What Are the Benefits of Wearing an Oral Appliance for Sleep Apnea?
Unlike other treatments that require loud and cumbersome machinery, oral appliance therapy is convenient and portable, and the device itself is easy to use and requires only minimal care.
How Much Can I Expect to Pay for an Oral Appliance for Sleep Apnea in Sweetwater?
The cost of an OSA mouthpiece can vary from patient to patient based on the specific type of device, as well as the patient’s insurance coverage. We will provide you with an outline of your cost and discuss your payment options following your initial consultation.
Is a Sleep Apnea Mouth Guard Covered by Insurance?
Most dental insurance plans cover at least part of the cost of OSA appliance therapy as a medical necessity. We do recommend that you speak with your insurance provider prior to your appointment to clarify the benefits offered under your plan.
How Can I Find Out More About Treatments for Sleep Apnea in Sweetwater?
Loud, persistent snoring is more than just an annoyance for you and your sleep partner and should not be ignored. Our dentists have extensive experience helping patients find relief from their OSA symptoms using oral appliance therapy.
If you have been diagnosed with OSA and are looking for an effective and noninvasive treatment, call our office today to schedule a consultation.