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Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects as many as 30 million Americans. This medical condition is characterized by the involuntary cessation of breathing during sleep, sometimes occurring hundreds of times over the course of one night. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by airway blockages due to the throat relaxing so much that it collapses during sleep. Left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea presents many health risks and can significantly reduce your quality of life.

Oral appliance therapy can treat obstructive sleep apnea and improve the quality of your sleep and your health.

The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Increased riskof cancer

Increased risk of cancer

Individuals with sleep apnea are 5 times more likely to get cancer.
Heart attack,heart disease, stroke

Increased risk of heart attack, heart disease, and stroke

Obstructive sleep apnea increases your risk of having a heart attack by 550%, which is more than the combined risk posed by obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. It also increases your risk of developing heart disease and having a stroke or heart arrhythmia.
Increased risk oftype 2 diabetes

Increased risk of type 2 diabetes

Sleep apnea alters the way you process energy and metabolize insulin. Over time, this can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Reducedlongevity

Reduced longevity

On average, undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea can increase your risk of death by 47% and decrease your life expectancy by up to 15 years.
Blood pressurecardiovascular disease

Increased risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease

Sleep apnea causes sudden drops in your blood oxygen levels, thereby increasing your blood pressure. It also strains the cardiovascular system.
Erectiledysfunction

Erectile dysfunction

Sleep apnea is one of the leading causes of erectile dysfunction.
Weightgain

Weight gain

Poor quality sleep hampers the normal function of hormones that monitor when you need to eat or stop eating. Your sleep-deprived body can also turn to food to restore its energy levels. Consequently, sleep apnea can lead to weight gain.
Impairedcognitive function
Lack of good sleep and oxygen to the brain can severely impair cognitive function and memory. This can impact your ability to work and function on a daily basis and could also harm the lives of those around you. Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk for motor vehicle accidents. In fact, a recent study published found that those with obstructive sleep apnea were 2.5 times more likely to be the driver in a motor vehicle accident than those without this sleeping disorder.
Increased riskof headaches

Increased risk of headaches

Unrestful sleep due to sleep apnea may cause morning headaches.
Depression ormood disorder

Depression or mood disorder

Sleep apnea is associated with depression and mood disorders, such as feeling irritable or having mood swings. It can even lead to hostile behavior.
Chronic fatigueand daytime sleepiness

Chronic fatigue and daytime sleepiness

If you stop breathing while you sleep, your brain signals your body to awaken so your throat muscles will engage and open your airways. This can happen many times during the night, disrupting your sleep and often causing chronic fatigue and daytime sleepiness even after a full night of rest. You may fall asleep frequently throughout the day, especially during periods of inactivity.

Treatment With Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral appliance therapy can effectively treat obstructive sleep apnea. A custom-made oral appliance can be worn at night like a mouthguard or retainer to support your jaw so that it remains in a forward position during sleep. This will keep your airway more open so you can breathe normally during sleep.

Step 1

If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, Dr. Sands will order you to undergo a sleep study to determine if you have obstructive sleep apnea and need a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) oral appliance therapy.

Step 2

During your first visit for oral appliance therapy, Dr. Sands will discuss the benefits of Oral appliance therapy for your obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Sands will conduct a clinical examination of your jaw, teeth, airway, and tongue, and she may also take x-rays of your mouth.

Step 3

Next, Dr. Sands will take an impression of your teeth and send it to a dental lab to design a custom oral appliance.

Step 4

Finally, you will return to meet with Dr. Sands and be fitted with your oral appliance. Dr. Sands will adjust your oral appliance to make it fully effective and comfortable. Also during this visit, you will receive instructions on how to maintain and care for your oral appliance.

Step 5

Have a follow up sleep test with the appliance in to see if it is effective in treating the OSA.

FAQs About Sleep Apnea and Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral appliance therapy can help improve many symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, ask your doctor if oral appliance therapy is the best form of treatment for you.

Many individuals with sleep apnea have no idea they have it. Common symptoms include chronic daytime sleepiness, impaired cognitive function, waking up frequently during the night, dry mouth or a headache upon waking, and/or loud and chronic snoring that may be accompanied by pauses, choking, or gasping. Your partner may notice these symptoms based on your sleep patterns. A proper diagnosis requires a physical examination, analysis of your medical and family history, and a sleep study to record your brain activity, heart rate, blood pressure, chest movements, air movement through your nose, and blood oxygen levels.

Sleep apnea is more common in men but can also occur in women and children. It is also more common in individuals who are overweight. Those with a narrow airway, enlarged tonsils, an enlarged uvula or soft palate, or a family history of sleep apnea are also at risk. The risk of developing sleep apnea increases with age.

A CPAP machine or surgery may be recommended to treat sleep apnea. However, it is estimated that 75% of patients are noncompliant with wearing their CPAP. If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and cannot (or will not) wear a CPAP, Dr. Jamie Sands can make an oral appliance for you.

Many people prefer oral appliance therapy because it is non-invasive and is more comfortable, easy to maintain, easy to wear, quiet, portable, and convenient. Oral appliance therapy may be appropriate for individuals who are incompatible with a CPAP machine. This form of treatment is best for those with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, and it is often covered by medical insurance plans. Talk to your sleep doctor and personal physician to find out whether oral appliance therapy is an appropriate treatment for your obstructive sleep apnea.

Oral appliance therapy will help you sleep better and improve your breathing during sleep. People with obstructive sleep apnea who use an oral appliance at night can have higher quality sleep, more energy, more mental clarity, and greater emotional stability. This simple, yet effective form of treatment promotes a healthier body, mind, and heart.

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