Sleep Apnea




New ADA Sleep-related breathing disorder treatment policy

Fill out this apnea questionaire to find out if you have sleep apnea. If you answer yes to 2 or more you may be at risk for sleep apnea. Please contact our office for a free sleep apnea consultation.

Snoring is a Nuisance, But Sleep Apnea is Life-Threatening. Did you know that 80% of people with Sleep Apnea go undiagnosed? Millions of people ignore their problem, thinking it’s “only snoring”. However, Sleep Apnea left untreated can worst-case scenario lead to death. So many people consider this problem to be a mild to moderate nuisance (unless, of course you sleep with someone who snores!) Sleep Apnea is
a problem that threatens your life and should not be taken lightly. While total number of deaths due to Sleep Apnea are hard to record, research cited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests that left untreated, Sleep Apnea can lead to:

• Increased risk of Cancer, more than 4 times
• Increased risk of stroke
• High Blood Pressure
• Higher rate of death due to heart disease
• Heart Attacks
• Diabetes due to impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance
• Impaired concentration
• Falling asleep at work or behind the wheel of your car
• Mood changes
• Gastric Reflux (GERD)
• Increased risk of being involved in a deadly motor vehicle accident
• Weight gain and the inability to lose weight

So what exactly is Sleep Apnea?  Many of us have heard the term, used it in passing, but may not fully understand what Sleep Apnea actually means.  The American Academy of Sleep Medicine defines Sleep Apnea as a “sleep-related breathing disorder that involves a decrease or complete halt in airflow despite an ongoing effort to breathe… It occurs when the muscles relax during sleep, causing the tongue and soft tissue in the back of the throat to collapse and block the upper airway.” In other words, as your body rests and you attempt to sleep, something is blocking your airway.  That something in most cases is your tongue, but could also be a buildup of fatty tissue, excess weight or other problems.  Whatever the reason, this blockage causes you to stop breathing up to 10-30 seconds at a time, and in some cases for 1 minute or longer.

Oral Appliances
Oral appliances for the treatment of sleep apnea continue to increase in popularity as awareness grows amongst the public that oral appliances are an effective first line treatment for many sleep apnea sufferers. Over 100 different oral appliances are FDA approved for the treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. These appliances are worn in the mouth, just like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic appliance, while you sleep. Oral appliances hold the lower jaw forward just enough to keep the airway open and prevent the tongue and muscles in the upper airway from collapsing and blocking the airway. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has approved oral appliance therapy (OAT) as a first line treatment for patients diagnosed with mild to moderate OSA. The AASM also recommends oral appliances for patients with severe OSA, who are unable to tolerate or cannot wear CPAP devices. Another option for people with severe OSA is combination therapy (wearing CPAP and an oral appliance together) to help reduce the pressure on a CPAP machine, making it more comfortable to use.

Advantages of Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral appliance therapy is an effective, non-invasive treatment that fits easily into your lifestyle. Patients like oral appliance therapy because it is:

• Comfortable
• Easy to wear
• Quiet
• Portable
• Convenient for travel
• Easy to care for

Custom Made Oral Appliance vs. Boil and Bites

Although there are a few over-the-counter appliances you can purchase at drug stores or even online, remember that these oral appliances are not FDA approved for sleep apnea. When not fitted properly over-the-counter appliances can cause unwanted side effects, such as jaw problems or tooth movement or can even have the opposite effect and inadvertently worsen sleep apnea.

If you snore or believe you have sleep apnea, contact our office to help schedule a sleep study to determine if you do have OSA. If it’s determined that an oral appliance is an option for you, it should be fitted by a dentist specially trained in Dental Sleep Medicine.

Pamela N. DeYoung, B.S.1,2; Jessie P. Bakker, Ph.D.2; Scott A. Sands, Ph.D.2; Salma Batool-Anwar, M.D., M.P.H.2; James G.