WHAT IS OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA?
Your partner complains about your loud snoring.
You wake up with headaches and a dry mouth.
You always feel exhausted.
You've nodded off while driving.
If any of this sounds familiar, you may have a condition that plagues approximately 18 million Americans on a nightly basis: Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
With Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the soft tissue in your throat collapses and blocks your airway, causing you to briefly, but repeatedly, stop breathing while you sleep. Each time your breathing is interrupted, your brain must wake you up so you start to breathe again. The result is you never get enough sleep at night and you feel fatigued during the day.
What puts you at greatest risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
What is the danger of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
- You're overweight.
- You're over 40.
- Your tongue, tonsils and/or uvula are larger than normal.
- You have a large neck, recessed chin, small jaw or large overbite.
- You smoke or drink.
- Sleep apnea runs in your family.
OSA can lead to:
What is the treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
- Fatigue which can cause driving and work-related accidents
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Memory loss
- Decreased sex drive
- Lifestyle changes, i.e., losing weight, quitting smoking, and avoiding drinking alcohol or taking sedatives before bedtime, can greatly improve or eliminate sleep apnea.
- Oral appliances, custom-fit by a sleep apnea dentist, treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea by repositioning the tongue and lower jaw forward to prevent the collapse of your airway.
- CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), comprised of a tube connected to a mask, provides you with a steady stream of air to keep your airway open and correct Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
- Surgery can remove excess tissue in the soft palate, uvula and tongue to prevent your airway from collapsing or it can reposition the entire structure of your mouth and facial bones. This option is generally only used when all other treatments fail.
Depending on the severity of your condition, you may be given the choice of using CPAP or
Oral Appliance Therapy
to treat your sleep apnea. Because they are comfortable, easier to adjust to and more convenient than CPAP, oral appliances often are used more consistently by patients, resulting in greater effectiveness.