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Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder characterized by breathing interruptions while sleeping and low blood oxygen levels. Sleep Apnea occurs when some portion of the upper airway becomes blocked . The sleeper will usually wake up with a gasp as the blood oxygen level in the brain becomes low, in order to clear the blocked airway.

Approximately 1 in 5 adults are affected by mild OSA and 1 in 15 have at least moderate OSA. OSA can also effect as many as 3% of children.

Most medical insurance plans cover treatment options for Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

  • Snoring with pauses in breathing (apnea)
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Problem with mental function
  • Poor judgment/can't focus
  • Memory loss
  • Quick to anger
  • High blood pressure
  • Nighttime chest pain
  • Depression
  • Problem with excess weight
  • Large neck (>17" around in men, >16" around in women)
  • Airway crowding
  • Morning headaches
  • Reduced libido
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom at night
Sleep Apnea

What are the Consequences of Untreated Sleep Apnea?

Depending on the severity of the diagnosis, you may experience some or all of these consequences if you do not treat your condition:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension), which raises the risk of heart failure and stroke
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Drowsiness
  • Depression
  • Decreased libido

How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

If you or a family member exhibit symptoms of sleep apnea, you should visit our practice right away. We will perform a thorough medical history and interview family members concerning your sleep habits.

In addition to a comprehensive physical exam, we may obtain a 3-Dimensional CBCT scan to evaluate your airway.

If warranted, the doctor will also arrange for a sleep study to be performed. This sleep study will help to confirm a diagnosis of OSA, as well as evaluate the severity of the disease process.

This sleep study, also known as polysomnography will be performed at a sleep lab where you will be monitored to determine disturbances in your sleep and the oxygen levels in your blood. Sometimes a breathing machine trial(CPAP) may be incorporated to evaluate its effects on your OSA.

Treatment for Sleep Apnea

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)

In moderate to severe cases of Sleep Apnea, your treatment may involve wearing a CPAP device (see Figure 1) while you sleep. The CPAP mask provides pressurized air to limit airway obstruction for the sleeper.

It is important to understand that while CPAP may prove effective in treating sleep apnea that it is not a cure. If you stop using your CPAP device your symptoms will return, as will your risk of other diseases. CPAP has proven to be very effective in treating OSA, but patients often find it hard to tolerate long term. Studies show that compliance with CPAP after a period of 5 years can be as low as 20%

Dental appliances, oral devices, and lower jaw adjustment devices

Dental appliances are typically effective for mild to moderate sleep apnea. Most devices are designed like mouth guards to fit inside your mouth, while others adjust the position of your lower jaw and open your airway by fitting around your head and chin.

Once again, it is important to remember that while dental and oral appliances may treat your OSA, they do not provide a cure. Symptoms and risks of others diseases return if you stop using your appliance.

Surgery

We will work closely with you to tailor a surgical procedure or procedures that will best address your individual needs. There are a number of procedures to treat OSA. These procedures address different areas of the upper airway. We often work closely and in conjunction with otolaryngologists and sleep specialists to obtain the best possible result for you.

Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA)

MMA involves repositioning the upper jaw, lower jaw, and chin forward opening the airway posteriorly. This forward positioning helps to move the tongue forward while increasing the size of the posterior airway. This procedure is often performed in conjunction with correction any nasal airway problems, such as septal deviation or enlarged nasal turbinates. In contrast to the other temporary measures to assist you with your sleep apnea, surgical repositioning offers you the best chance of a permanent cure to your OSA. Studies have shown success rates with this surgery are better than 90%. 

We will work closely with you to determine whether or not surgical procedures will help with your OSA. Our team of insurance specialists will work closely with you to understand your benefits, if they apply and then work with you through the approval process.