Many people — and their sleep partners — must cope with the negative impact of chronic snoring. More than just an annoyance, snoring is frequently a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Although the most commonly prescribed treatment for OSA is CPAP therapy, Dr. Raj Upadya of Metropolitan Center for Complete Dentistry in East Hanover, NJ can help patients with OSA with an alternative form of treatment: an oral appliance that prevents snoring while you sleep. Dr. Upadya has advanced training in treating diagnosed sleep disorders. Dr. Upadya focuses on oral appliance therapy which includes customized splints, mouth guards and night guards designed to keep the airways open during sleep.
Q: What are the symptoms and risks of sleep apnea?
Those with OSA or their sleep partners may notice some symptoms such as loud snoring, and choking or gasping for air during sleep. The person suffering from OSA may experience routine daytime sleepiness, general fatigue, insomnia, headaches and irritability. How sleep apnea differs from regular snoring is that people with OSA actually stop breathing during their sleep due to a blockage in the upper airway.
This inability to breathe while sleeping can prevent oxygen from reaching your organs and increase your risk for heart disorders such as stroke, heart attack, and hypertension. When the oxygen levels in the person’s blood drop, the person wakes up, gasping for air. Many people who suffer from OSA are not even aware that they stop breathing while they are sleeping.
Q: What causes sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is most commonly associated with being overweight. It is also most commonly diagnosed in smokers, those who regularly drink alcohol before bed, and men over 50. The obstruction occurs when the muscles relax during sleep, causing the soft tissues in the rear of the throat to collapse and cover the airway. This restricts the person’s airflow to the rest of their body and may cause them to awaken multiple times overnight gasping for air. The person with OSA often awakens feeling tired and may sometimes fall asleep during the day. Issues with memory and concentration are also prevalent.
Q: How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
Diagnosing a sleep-related breathing disorder such as OSA usually involves the patient’s physician and possibly other specialists as well as the dentist. Diagnostic imaging such as x-rays may be done to examine the airway and look for signs of blockage. A sleep study may need to be performed, either at home or at a specialist’s office, to evaluate the quality of sleep.
Q: Isn’t sleep apnea treated with CPAP therapy? How does the oral appliance work?
Although CPAP therapy continues to be the most commonly prescribed sleep apnea treatment, an oral appliance provides a similar result without the cumbersome mask and air tubes. Both approaches are merely different ways of preventing the airway from collapsing during sleep, when the soft tissues in the mouth are more relaxed.
With CPAP a constant airflow prevents the airway from collapsing during sleep. However, patient compliance with CPAP therapy can be problematic as some patients find the masks that must be worn to administer the treatment uncomfortable. These oral appliances, however, are custom-fitted to the individual patient’s mouth to be as comfortable as possible. The appliance positions their jaw in order to prevent the tissues in the back of the throat from blocking the airway.
Q: How comfortable is a sleep apnea oral appliance?
Dr. Upadya or one of his associates meets with patients for an individual consultation in which the mouth is examined so that he can be sure your appliance will fit correctly and comfortably. Although the device is designed to reposition the jaw, it’s made to do so comfortably in the patient’s mouth so your sleep is disturbed as little as possible. Most patients report that the appliance is effective in reducing snoring, allowing for better sleep, more energy, a better memory and an overall better mood throughout the day.
Q: Do I have to see a dentist to get it?
Although a medical doctor or pulmonary specialist will have to diagnose you with OSA, your dentist can treat you once it has been diagnosed. The oral appliance will be comfortable and effective because it is custom-fitted to the individual patient’s mouth. Your Metropolitan dentist will discuss your needs with you, gather precise measurements and the specific details about your mouth to ensure the device is as comfortable as possible.
Sleep Apnea Treatment in East Hanover, NJ
Your Metropolitan dentist is ready to discuss sleep apnea treatment or any other dental concern you may have. To schedule a consultation at our East Hanover office, call (973) 287-3153 or contact us online today.