Table of Content:
- What is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?
- What are the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea?
- How do you treat obstructive sleep apnea?
- How can dentists help with sleep apnea?
- Obstructive sleep apnea treatment in Orange County.
Obstructive sleep apnea, abbreviated OSA, is a medical condition where you stop breathing for periods of 10 seconds or longer during your sleep. Those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea will experience multiple periods of non-breathing episodes throughout the night. This prevents you from getting the deep sleep that your body needs and leaves you tired throughout the day.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a very common medical condition. It is estimated that more than 18 million Americans suffer from OSA. Unfortunately, the majority of these people are also unaware of their condition. Depending on the intensity and frequency of your non-breathing episodes obstructive sleep apnea is categorized as mild, moderate or severe. Those suffering from severe OSA could experience as many a few hundred non-breathing episodes each and every night! As you can see, obstructive sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that requires proper diagnosis and treatment.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious medical condition which compromises your overall health and well-being. Those suffering from OSA will experience multiple episodes of non-breathing throughout the night. These episodes of non-breathing cause you to wake up and gasp for air. This prevents you from getting the deep sleep that your bodies requires to regenerate. As a result, you are left feeling tired and fatigued throughout your day. The most obvious sign of obstructive sleep apnea is nighttime snoring. Other symptoms include:
- Feeling tired throughout the day
- Being irritable
- Unexplained weight gain
- Frequent morning headaches
- Falling asleep behind the wheel
- Diminished productivity
- A generalized decrease in your quality of life
Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can be a precursor to many medical conditions. There are links to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression. In its most extreme cases, severe OSA can be fatal should you fail to come out from a non-breathing episode. If you suspect that you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, talk to your physician or dentist to get started on your treatment.
The treatment choice for obstructive sleep apena depends on how severe your case is. Treatment options range from using aCPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, oral appliances or airway surgery. Here is a bit more information about each sleep apnea treatment option:
CPAP machine secures to your face and forcefully pushes air into your nose. Wearing a CPAP will ensure that you’re breathing enough Oxygen throughout the night. CPAP machine is the golden standard for treating severe obstructive sleep apnea cases. However, CPAP machines are loud and wearing them can be quite uncomfortable. Many patients find out that they are unable or unwilling to use their CPAP machine on a nightly basis.
OSA oral appliances
Oral appliances used for treating sleep apnea are made by your dentist. Basically, an oral appliance resembles a large nightguard that functions to open your airways. By pulling your lower jaw forward, oral appliances open up your airway to help you breath better throughout the night. Oral appliances are not as effective as a CPAP machine but they are much more comfortable to wear.
Airway surgery, such as a Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), aims to alter your airway to improve breathing. Typically, surgery is reserved as a last resort option. Airway surgery is difficult and recovery is painful, so it’s only recommended for the most extreme sleep apnea cases. Additionally, surgery results are not guaranteed and relapses are not uncommon.
Since dentists spend most of their time looking in peoples mouth, this gives them an excellent opportunity to screen for airway obstruction. Dentists can help with both screening and treating certain obstructive sleep apnea cases:
Screening for obstructive sleep apnea
If your dentist suspects that you may be suffering from sleep apnea, he or she can perform a simple screening. Dentists look for signs of sleep apnea such as obstructed airways, large tongue, low palate and tonsil blockage. If the screening results confirm that you might have signs of OSA, appropriate referral is made. Typically, the next step would be to complete a sleep study test. The results of your sleep study test will be sent to a sleep trained physician to determine if you have sleep apnea.
Treating obstructive sleep apnea
Dentists can also help treat mild-to-moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea. Your dentist can make you a custom sleep apnea oral appliance. Oral appliances are recommended for patients unable or unwilling to use a CPAP device. Most oral appliances function by re-positioning your tongue to open-up your airways. This helps you breath more comfortably so you can sleep continuously throughout the night.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, give us a call today. You can reach us at (949) 481-2540 or book your consultation online today. Our sleep apnea consultation typically takes about 45 minutes. During your consult, we will evaluate your airways, review your medical history and have you fill out a few questionnaires. If it is determined that you might be suffering from OSA, we will refer you for a sleep study test. For those who are confirmed to have sleep apnea, we will help you determine which sleep apnea device best suits your needs. Don’t delay treatment any longer, give us a call today and start treating your sleep apnea.