Sleep breathing disorders range in severity from mild snoring to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Snoring tends to be the initial sign of the onset of a more severe sleep breathing disorder. May people just believe that snoring is the annoying sound their spouse or loved one makes when they are sleeping, but snoring is more than that. Snoring is caused by the collapsing of the airway onto itself and vibrating as one tries to breath. This can lead to other health problems, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and, of course, more severe sleep breathing disorders.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most severe of the sleep breathing disorders. It is characterized by the complete collapse of the airway while the sufferer is asleep, and because air can’t get through it causes the sufferer to periodically wake up during the night in order to breath. Periods in which the sleeper does not breathe for ten or more seconds are called apneic events, and these events can occur in the hundreds every night without the sufferer knowing.
Current treatments available
This is a mask that fits over the mouth and/or nose and is attached to a machine that breathes for the patient while he or she is asleep. This is the most effective way to treat sleep apnea and is considered the gold standard for those with severe sleep apnea. While CPAP is extremely effective, some patients complain about discomfort, side effects, such as runny/stuffy nose, and noise, which can lead to a lack of compliance.
Sufferers also have the option to have their airway, uvula, tongue, or other tissues altered over a series or multiple appointments. There are many examples of effective surgeries to treat sleep breathing disorders. Unfortunately, some patients experience regrowth of tissue during the healing process, which can lead to a new obstruction.
Your Dentists at Elrod, Green, and Hyland can help!
Oral Appliance Therapy
This is an acrylic splint, made by your dentist that is worn at night, which allows the jaw to be held in the more optimal position for breathing. Oral appliance therapy is now considered the gold standard for those with mild to moderate sleep apnea and those with severe sleep apnea who cannot tolerate CPAP. These splints not only help with sleep apnea, but they can also be made to help with nasal congestion and teeth grinding.
Make an appointment today so you can start breathing and sleeping better tomorrow!