What is Sleep Apnea?
The word “apnea” is a Greek word meaning “without breath.” Sleep apnea is generally characterized by interruptions in normal sleep patterns due to temporary pauses in breathing. It is a chronic disorder that has the potential to worsen over time. More often than not, sleep apnea is misdiagnosed or missed completely. Symptoms can be confused with a separate health problem which is actually a component of the underlying sleep disorder. There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA occurs when the airway collapses during sleep, blocking the flow of air to the lungs. The person tries to continue to breathe but the harder they try, the tighter the airway closes. Eventually the brain “wakes ” the person to a lighter level of sleep and they reposition their jaw and tongue to open the airway (usually with a gasp or a snort). This process can occur hundreds of times a night for seconds to minutes at a time. Although the levels of severity of sleep apnea varies between individuals, it usually greatly affects the quality of life of the sufferer as well as their bed partner. If left untreated, sleep apnea may lead to heart disease, stroke, and premature death.
CPAP- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP is comprised of a mask that delivers positive air flow to the nose and sometimes the mouth during sleep. This device is highly effective for most people.
CPAP Pro- This device is used when a patient cannot tolerate the typical CPAP mask or has problems with the straps that keep the CPAP mask in place. The CPAP-Pro allows for nasal delivery of CPAP but uses the teeth to hold the mask in place rather than straps.
MDSA (Medical Dental Sleep Appliance)- The MDSA is a safe and effective scientifically proven treatment for snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea. The laboratory made MDSA holds the jaw and tongue forward and prevents the throat from collapsing during sleep. The MDSA is an alternative therapy when other treatments that involve nasal CPAP or surgery are not accepted.
EMA (Elastic Mandibular Advancement)- The EMA is similar to the MDSA in that its primary function is to bring the jaw forward and keep the airway open. One of the major advantages of the EMA is its smaller size as well as its flexibility. Various lengths of flexible bands are used to adjust the position of the lower jaw. The EMA is one of the most comfortable of the oral appliances.
SOMNOMED- The SomnoMed is a relatively new appliance on the market. It is unique in that the upper and lower component of the appliance are not connected as with other oral appliances, but are still adjustable. This allows for full opening of the mouth, which improves comfort and is helpful in certain types of cases.
SILENT SLEEP- The Silent Sleep is a “non custom” appliance which is fit while you are in the office; you may leave the same day with your new anti-snoring appliance. The Silent Sleep uses resilient materials to position the jaw forward just enough to open up your airway and reduce or eliminate snoring. It can also be helpful in cases of obstructive sleep apnea.
Is Snoring Keeping You Up At Night?
While you sleep, the muscles of your throat relax, your tongue falls backward, and your throat becomes narrow and “floppy.” As you breathe, the walls of the throat begin to vibrate leading to the sound of snoring. The narrower your airway becomes, the greater the vibration and the louder you snore. Sometimes the walls of the throat collapse completely creating a condition called apnea (cessation of breathing). This is a serious condition which requires medical attention.
When To Call Medical Arts Dentistry
If your physician believes that your snoring is not a symptom of a more serious sleep disordered breathing problem, an oral appliance can be used to quiet your snoring and improve the sleep of your bed partner! Medical Arts Dentistry is here to help you regain your sleep and wake rested and ready for the day. Call us at 912-921-0401.