Feeling out of breath after running a few miles is normal. Being out of breath while you sleep is not. But millions of people with sleep apnea are literally out of breath every night, according to the National Institutes of Health.
If sleep apnea sounds Greek to you, that’s because it is — apnea is Greek for “without breath.” People with sleep apnea stop breathing in their sleep — sometimes up to 100 hundred times an hour — for one minute or longer.
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea and mixed sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common and is caused by a blockage of the airway that occurs when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes.
Is Treating OSA Important?
Treating obstructive sleep apnea is incredibly important to your health. When left untreated, sleep apnea often causes excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue, as well as morning headaches and memory loss. Sleep apnea is a threat to your safety as it increases your risk of drowsy driving and workplace accidents. Untreated sleep apnea raises your risk for serious health problems. These include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Chronic acid reflux
- Erectile dysfunction
Severe, untreated sleep apnea even increases your risk of death.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Late nights out will surely cause you to feel groggy in the morning. But if you go to bed early every night and still feel tired and disoriented the following day, you just might have sleep apnea.
Snoring is also a strong indication of sleep apnea. If anyone tells you that you have loud bouts of snoring followed by moments of silence, sleep apnea is probably to blame.
It’s easy to believe that disorders affect everyone but you. But the fact is sleep apnea affects over 12 million Americans.
Most people don’t know they have sleep apnea. But left untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, memory problems, headaches and even impotency. Moreover, sleep apnea can affect your job performance and impair your driving.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). A custom-fit oral sleep appliance can improve your sleep, restore your alertness and revitalize your health. Here is a guide to help you get started with this life-changing treatment.
About Oral Appliance Therapy
Worn only during sleep, an oral appliance fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. It supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway. Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
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 oral appliance. You will also receive a referral to a qualified dentist who can provideoral appliance therapy. More than 100 oral appliances have received FDA clearance. Dr. Antone will recommend the oral appliance that is best for you. Oral appliance therapy is covered by many medical insurance plans.
Advantages of Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is an effective, non-invasive treatment that fits easily into your lifestyle. Patients like oral appliance therapy because it is:
- Easy to wear
- Convenient for travel
- Easy to care for
How a Dentist Can Help: The First Visit
Dentists work closely with physicians to treat snoring and sleep apnea. At your first visit, your dentist will talk to you about the benefits of treatment. You will also receive information on the potential side effects and the cost of therapy.
Then your dentist will conduct a complete clinical evaluation. This will include an examination of your teeth, jaw tongue and airway, and possibly new X-Rays of your mouth.
Making and Fitting Your Oral Appliance
Oral appliances are customized using digital or physical impressions and models of your teeth. These models are sent to a dental lab where the appliance is made.
Once your oral appliance is ready, you will return to your dentist’s office for a fitting. Your dentist will adjust the appliance to maximize its comfort and effectiveness. You also will learn how to clean the oral appliance and maintain it. After this fitting, your sleep doctor may schedule you for a sleep study to verify treatment success.
Follow-up visits with your dentist will be needed to ensure the optimal fit of the oral appliance. Effective oral appliances are always custom fit and adjusted over time to ensure maximum effectiveness. Your dentist also will schedule you for an annual assessment. These routine visits are an important part of your long-term treatment success.