Many people — and their partners — must cope with the effects of snoring. More than just an annoyance, it’s often a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The most common treatment for OSA is therapy with a CPAP machine, but Dr. Brad Gorsky, a respected dentist based in Manhattan, NY can help with an alternative treatment in the form of an oral appliance that you wear while you sleep.
Q: What are the symptoms and risks of sleep apnea?
Those with OSA may notice some symptoms such as loud snoring, routine daytime sleepiness, general fatigue, insomnia, loud snoring, choking or gasping for air in your sleep, headaches and irritability. What makes sleep apnea different from regular snoring is that people with OSA actually stop breathing during their sleep due to a blockage in the upper airway. This inability to breathe while sleeping can prevent oxygen from reaching your organs and increase your risk for heart disorders such as stroke, heart attack, and hypertension. When the oxygen levels in the person’s blood drop, it causes the body to wake up and gasp for air. Many people who suffer from OSA are unaware that they stop breathing while they sleep.
Q: What causes sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is most commonly associated with being overweight. The obstruction occurs when the muscles relax during sleep. When this happens, the soft tissues in the rear of the throat may collapse and cover the airway. This restricts the person’s airflow to the rest of their body and may cause them to awaken multiple times overnight gasping for air. The person with OSA tends to wake up feeling tired and may sometimes fall asleep during the day, and have issues with memory and concentration. The prevalence of sleep apnea increases with age and it is estimated that as many as 50% of elderly men and women suffer from the disorder.
Q: I thought the only option for sleep apnea was CPAP therapy. How does the oral appliance work?
Although CPAP therapy is the most commonly prescribed sleep apnea treatment, an oral appliance offers a similar result without a mask and air tubes. Both are different ways of preventing the airway from collapsing during sleep, when the soft tissues in the mouth are more relaxed. Many patients report CPAP masks as being uncomfortable which can lead to issues with treatment compliance.
Instead of a constant airflow keeping the airway open during sleep, as is the case with CPAP therapy, the oral appliance is custom-fitted to the patient’s mouth to position their jaw so as to prevent the tissues in the mouth from blocking the airway when they relax. The appliance is durable enough to stand up to bruxism — teeth grinding — so even those patients can benefit from the device.
Q: How comfortable is a sleep apnea oral appliance?
Dr. Gorsky meets with patients for an individual consultation in which the mouth is examined so that he can be sure your appliance will fit correctly and comfortably. Although the device repositions the jaw, it’s designed to fit comfortably in the patient’s mouth so your sleep is disturbed as little as possible. Most patients report that the appliance is effective in reducing snoring, leading to better sleep, more energy, a better memory and an overall better mood throughout the day.
Q: Do I have to see a dentist to get it?
Although a medical doctor or pulmonologist will have to diagnose you with sleep apnea, your dentist can treat you once it has been diagnosed. The oral appliance is comfortable and effective because it is custom-fitted to the individual patient’s mouth. Dr. Gorsky will discuss your needs with you, gather precise measurements and the specific details about your mouth to ensure the device is as comfortable as possible. It’s no good to stop your snoring only to wake up with a sore jaw!
Sleep Apnea Treatment in Manhattan, NY
Dr. Gorsky’s practice is conveniently located in midtown Manhattan, near the 4, 5, 6, E, M, N, Q and R subway lines. To schedule a consultation, call 212.235.1769 or contact us online.