Do You Suffer From Sleep Apnea?

If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you’re not alone. The American Sleep Apnea Association says about 22 million Americans have OSA and people of all ages can be affected. OSA occurs when the soft tissues in the throat weaken and collapse repeatedly during sleep, blocking the airway and causing interruptions in breathing that can last from 10 seconds to more than a minute. A person with moderate to severe sleep apnea can have hundreds of these breathing pauses in a single night, and each pause causes swift reductions in blood oxygen levels that can in turn have serious effects on the body’s organs — especially the heart and blood vessels. What’s more, each time a pause occurs the brain senses the lack of oxygen and startles the body into wakefulness or semi-wakefulness in order to restore normal breathing.

Risks of Not Treating OSA

People with sleep apnea have fragmented sleep and are frequently fatigued during the day. Left undiagnosed and untreated, sleep apnea can have serious consequences and may increase your risk for:

  • daytime sleepiness
  • auto accidents
  • cardiovascular disease
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • depression
  • memory impairment
  • decreased sex drive

For years, oral appliances have been used to help patients improve their quality of sleep and reduce apnea-related health risks. Although early devices like the Herbst appliance were effective, their bulkiness made them unpopular with many patients. Today, more streamlined designs make dental appliances an attractive option, especially for patients who prefer not to use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices or those for whom CPAP is not an option.

The Benefits of Oral Appliances

Oral appliances gently reposition the tongue and jaw to help keep the airway open during sleep. Many patients who find CPAP devices uncomfortable or bulky are able to find relief from their apnea through the use of a dental appliance.

At Grove City Dental, Dr. Schumann uses state-of-the-art oral appliances, including the Moses, EMA, Tap 3 Elite, SUAD and AVEO-TSD devices, custom-fitting and adjusting them to ensure they’re as comfortable and as easy to use as possible. Once fitted with a dental appliance, Dr. Schumann can make additional adjustments based on sleep study results that help to ensure you are breathing as freely as possible while you sleep.

An Alternative to CRAP

Patients with OSA typically find that once their apnea symptoms are under control and they’re finally able to have uninterrupted sleep, they have more energy and feel better than they have in years. Although CPAP is often touted as a first-line therapy for OSA, studies show that as many as 25% to 50% of patients who try CPAP either do not tolerate the device or do not comply with usage guidelines, rendering the approach ineffective for many. Since dental devices do not require bulky masks or tethering hoses to external equipment like CPAP does, oral appliances are often much better tolerated and are recommended for patients who have been diagnosed by a sleep specialist as having mild to moderate OSA and for patients with severe OSA for whom CPAP is simply not an option.

OSA can have serious health consequences if left untreated even for relatively brief periods of time. To learn more about how Grove City Dental and Dr. Schumann can help you find relief from your diagnosed apnea, call 614-808-1700 or make an appointment online through our easy-to-use contact form.