Snoring and Sleep Apnea
How Are Snoring and Sleep Apnea Related?
Although snoring may only be a benign nuisance to your bed partner, it may also be a symptom of a more serious sleep disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is characterized by periods where breathing completely stops for 10 seconds or more when sleeping. Of the two types of sleep apnea, central and obstructive, dentists have the ability to help patients with their OSA. In OSA, this cessation of breathing is caused by some obstruction in the mouth and throat.
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What Are The Health Risks of Sleep Apnea?
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness or EDS is a common symptom of OSA. This is caused by the lack of oxygen to your body that results in waking hundreds of times a night and thereby preventing a full restful night of sleep. The person may not even realize that this is occurring. Other consequences of this lack of oxygen are the increase in blood pressure that can lead to heart attack and stroke, the tendency towards diabetes, headaches, weight gain, and stress.
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
Besides some behavioral changes that you do on your own and the surgical treatments that are performed by your physician, there are two non-surgical methods to manage sleep apnea. One is a mask that fits over your face called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP. The second is an oral appliance made by a dentist that can be custom fitted to your teeth. Then working in conjunction with your physician, the oral appliance is adjusted for both comfort and effectiveness.
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Will An Oral Appliance Work For Me?
Although CPAP is the most effective way to deliver oxygen, studies show that patient compliance with CPAP may only be 29% and lower. Oral Appliance Therapy or OAT can work well in mild to moderate forms of OSA, and can sometimes help with even severe forms of OSA. Your dentist can help you understand what to expect with OAT.