Another uncomfortable condition involving the head area, sleep apnea is a serious condition wherein a person experiences abnormal pauses in breathing while asleep, which may last from several seconds to a minute.
Not everyone knows that this is a potentially life-threatening condition. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea. It is caused by a blockage in the airway, which can be due to excess tissue in the nasal passages or behind the tongue. About 15 million Americans suffer from this disorder.
Typical symptoms include snoring, choking or gasping for air during sleep, daytime sleepiness, and fatigue. What makes the condition so dangerous is that it can cause high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, stroke, heart attack, heart failure, diabetes, and depression.
Read more here: Central Dental TMJ and Dental Sleep Therapy
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
The good news is that there are several sleep apnea appliances that may help solve this problem. We offer several options to help patients suffering from sleep apnea, including oral appliance therapy (OAT) and a mandibular advancement device (MAD).
The oral appliance therapy procedure uses a device similar to a mouth guard which is placed inside the patient’s mouth and keeps the airway free from obstruction. A mandibular advancement device is used to slightly adjust the position of the lower jaw in order to keep the airway open more consistently during sleep. It is important to note that these sleep apnea appliances are adjustable. Since patients experience varying degrees of the condition, adjusting the devices is important in achieving the necessary comfort. TMJ and sleep apnea should never be a problem when you know the right appliance or therapy to use.
About Oral Sleep Appliances & Therapy
Many of our patients suffering from the troublesome symptoms of temporomandibular disorder (TMD) also sleep poorly. Although, some have already been diagnosed with breathing-related sleep disorders by the time they visit our office others remain alarmingly unaware. The most common complaints from our patients suffering from sleep disorders are snoring, disturbance of their bed partner’s sleep, witnessed episodes of not breathing, excessive daytime sleepiness and poor concentration. These episodes of not breathing are known as sleep apneas. The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Some other symptoms of sleep disorders are:
- morning headaches
- unrefreshing sleep
- a dry mouth upon awakening
- chest retraction during sleep in young children (chest pulls in)
- high blood pressure
- obesity or overweight (rapid weight gain)
- change in personality
- difficulty concentrating
- excessive perspiring or sweating during sleep
- reduced libido or decreased desire for intimacy
- insomnia or sleeplessness (inability to fall asleep/stay asleep)
- frequent nighttime urination (nocturia)
- restless sleep
- nocturnal snorting, gasping, choking (may even wake the sufferer)
- confusion or disorientation upon awakening
The National Center on Sleep Disorder Research estimates that approximately 70 million people in the United States have a sleep disorder. It is estimated that sleep disorders, sleep deprivation, and sleepiness add $15.9 billion to the national health care bill each year. These calculations do not include related health problems, lost worker productivity, interpersonal relationship issues, and accidents. Those with untreated sleep apnea are two to three times more likely to be in motor vehicle accidents.
Relapse of the tongue into the airway is one of the primary causes of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Some other causes are retrusion of the mandible (a lower jaw that is further back that it should be), facial deformities such as micrognathia (a lower jaw that is smaller than it should be), obesity, enlarged tongue or tonsils, throat muscle and tongue relax more than normal and the aging process.
Undiagnosed or untreated obstructive sleep apnea can potentially lead to heart attacks, strokes, impotence, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and heart disease. The symptoms become progressively worse with time and severity range from mild to severe. The quality of life can be greatly affected if left untreated so the condition should not be taken lightly.
Sleep Apnea Recommendations
Common recommendations for those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea are a weight loss program, sleeping on one’s side, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) for those with mild to moderate symptoms and BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) for those with more severe symptoms. While CPAP is an effective form of treatment and has been the standard of care for most patients suffering from mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea the effectiveness and success is greatly reduced due to patient intolerance. Many patients are unable to wear CPAP due to claustrophobia, noise disturbances, the mask causing jaw discomfort or applying pressure to the upper lip/anterior (front) teeth, a latex allergy, or and having an unconscious need to remove the device during the night. Others that have a career that requires frequent travel often find it cumbersome.
A study conducted by the Department of Otolaryngology at the Henry Ford Medical Group in 2011 demonstrates a CPAP compliance rate of a mere 28.8%. In contrast, oral sleep appliances have proven to have up to an 88% compliance rate and are considered the first line of treatment for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea according to reports published in the February 2006 Sleep Journal and the March 2010 Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technology in Health Journal. Although CPAP has a higher efficacy in a clinical study setting oral sleep appliances have proven to have higher effectiveness due to continual compliance and intolerance issues with CPAP.
Central Dental offers effective and patient-friendly treatment alternatives for those who have been diagnosed with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. If you think you have obstructive sleep apnea but have yet to be diagnosed, Central Dental offers a convenient sleep test that can be taken in the comfort of your own home. Once your diagnosis is confirmed you can be fitted for a custom fabricated oral sleep appliance that is designed to reposition the lower jaw, soft palate and tongue to open the airway. Oral appliances are then titrated (adjusted) to an optimal position to alleviate snoring and reduce the number of shallow or non-breathing events while sleeping (apneas/hypopneas). Oral appliances may include a SUAD™ or Full Breath Solution™ based on your specific treatment needs. Treatment length is indefinite and success directly correlates with compliance.
Dr. Dalton may also recommend a lingual frenulectomy/frenectomy to correct low tongue posture or tongue tie that is often found in patients with sleep apnea. This is a simple procedure that involves clipping the tissue underneath the tongue that binds it down. This procedure allows for free movement and advancement of the tongue out of the throat resulting in an increased opening of the airway.
Meet Dr. Dalton
Dr. Dalton has dedicated 30 years to the study and practice of dentistry and 20 years of practice in TMJ treatment, craniofacial pain, and dental sleep medicine.
Dr. Dalton is the only dentist in the state of Arkansas who is triple board certified with the American Board of Craniofacial Pain (ABCP), American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, and the American Board of Craniofacial Dental Sleep Medicine.
Contact Central Dental
Our doctors can help with your sleep apnea by finding out which of our options is the best fit for you. To learn more about our products and treatment options, you can fill out our form below or reach our Little Rock office at (501) 225-1577 and our Conway office at (501) 327-6453.