Sleep apnea is a progressive and potentially life-threatening sleep disorder. The most common form is called obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. Characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep, OSA is often accompanied by loud snoring followed by choking or gasping for air when the tongue relaxes and obstructs the back of the throat. Because your body isn’t getting the oxygen it needs during these episodes, your brain wakes you up just enough to get air again and you resume sleep without ever being aware of the oxygen loss. Your body may experience dozens of these episodes in a single hour, which can affect the amount and quality of sleep that you get at night. Loss of sleep at night can cause serious issues such as cardiovascular problems, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, excessive daytime sleepiness, problems with concentration and mood changes.
Sleep apnea has many risk factors associated with it. Many of these are things that a dentist is specifically trained to notice during a routine exam. These risk factors include:
- Enlarged tonsils or tongue
- Changes in size of the bones supporting the teeth
- Acid reflux
- Sinus problems
- Deviated septum
In order to screen for OSA, an oxygen meter will be sent home with you to measure your oxygen levels and heart rate over a three-night period. If your results demonstrate irregularities in your oxygen levels and heart rate, then more testing may be necessary to find out the extent of your apnea.
Most cases of sleep apnea are treated with a CPAP device. While this is the most common treatment, it can be difficult to wear for some patients. In fact, 50% of patients given a CPAP device stop using it with the first year and the damaging effects of the disease continues.
In many cases an oral appliance can be made to hold the jaw forward and prevent the tongue from restricting your airflow during sleep, preventing loss of oxygen and improving your quality of sleep. The doctors at Advanced Dental Wellness can assess whether your apnea can be treated with an oral appliance and fabricate a custom-made appliance to fit your needs.
If you are currently not wearing your CPAP, don’t travel with your CPAP or have been told you snore and would like information about an oral appliance, call 614-267-5413 or use our convenient Request an Appointment form. Dr. Raisch's sleep apnea patients come from Beechwold, Clintonville, Columbus, Worthington, Arlington and neighboring areas.