The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has recommended since 2006 that oral appliances be used as a first line treatment for mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and severe OSA cases which are CPAP intolerant.
During sleep, the muscles and tissues of the upper airway can collapse and narrow or totally block the airway. Snoring occurs when the airway partially closes, causing the tissues to reverberate when air passes through. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a much more severe, life-threatening condition in which the sufferer stops breathing repeatedly throughout the night due to partial or full blockages of the airway during sleep. The frequent breathing stoppages result in dangerous drops in levels of oxygen in the bloodstream.
Left untreated, sleep apnea is a life threatening condition that increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Symptoms also put patients at double the risk of being involved in a traffic accident.
Symptoms of patients experiencing sleep apnea include:
- Lack and poor quality of sleep
- Disturbing bed partner
- Excessive daytime drowsiness
Symptoms and conditions that may become worse in patients with sleep apnea include:
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Frequent headaches
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Hormonal imbalances
- Damaged teeth and other dental work due to grinding, clenching or bruxism
- Orthodontic problems
- Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)
- Orofacial pain disorders
Because of the severity of the disorder, all patients are diagnosed with either a home sleep study test or overnight sleep study (polysomnography). As a patient of Dr. Waterfall’s office, you will be given an at-home sleep study test that you can complete in the comfort and privacy of your home without having to wait weeks or months for an overnight appointment at a sleep lab.
With advancements in both technology and design of oral appliances, and in response to the high rate of rejection to continuous airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, dentists like Dr. Waterfall are many patients’ first line of defense against sleep apnea and snoring. Contact our office today to see how effectively – and quickly – an oral appliance can help your or a loved one’s sleep disorder.