While the main job of a dentist is to care for patient’s oral health, we are also very concerned with their overall health. Sleep apnea is very common sleep disorder that can negatively affect overall health. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy has been the go-to treatment for it until recently. The use of oral appliances is gaining popularity as patients learn how easy and effective they are to use.
Dr. Brad Gorsky is a dentist in Larchmont, NY that offers oral appliance therapy as a successful way to treat mild to moderate sleep apnea.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder that affects a person’s breathing while they sleep. A patient with OSA will cease breathing up to 400 times a night. Each time it can last 10-30 seconds. They briefly wake up to resume breathing again although many people do not remember actually waking up.
There are muscles in the back of the throat that support soft tissues such as the tongue and soft palate. When these muscles relax temporarily, the airway closes and oxygen cannot come in. Only when the patient wakes up can breathing resume.
Do I have OSA?
Many people have OSA and do not even realize it. Some people often attribute the signs and symptoms to other things. For some, being extremely sleepy while awake or a partner saying they snore excessively may be the only signs. And not everyone that snores or is sleepy has sleep apnea. Here are the most common signs of sleep apnea:
- Excessively tired while awake
- Loud snoring
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Issues with focusing while awake
- Using the restroom often during the night
- Dry mouth upon waking up
Sleep Apnea Risks
As you can imagine, people with sleep apnea can have difficulty living a normal life and can suffer from many additional health problems. Being excessively tired despite sleeping all night can cause poor performance at work, car wrecks, depression, problems with relationships, and difficulty staying awake. Additionally, doctors claim there is a link between the lack of oxygen to many health problems including: high blood pressure, strong, diabetes, heart disease, and more.
How Can My Dentist Treat Sleep Apnea?
The most common way doctors treat sleep apnea is with the CPAP machine. This medical device sits on a table next to the patient while they sleep. A tube runs from the machine to a mask that sits on the face. It will deliver constant air flow that will keep the airway open while you sleep. However, you may not like being connected to a machine while you sleep. For some, it’s the bulky mask or constant air being blown in their face.
However, there is another way to treat it. Dentists now offer effective and affordable sleep apnea treatment. An oral appliance can be custom made in our Larchmont, NY dentist office that will allow you to breathe all night without interruption. An oral appliance for sleep apnea looks similar to a mouth piece. A lab will make the appliance from dental impressions so that it fits snuggly over your teeth. It will gently push the lower jaw forward and hold it in this position all night long. This prevents the soft tissues inside the mouth from blocking the airway.