Sleep Apnea Treatment Obstructive Sleep Apnea is often caused by a neuromuscular bite imbalance. Approximately 18 Million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea according to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. (2009) Sleep Apnea is much more serious than just losing a little sleep; it can cause problems ranging from chronic snoring to insulin resistance to heart failure. Sleep Apnea can become a life threatening medical condition and should always be taken seriously. Treating Sleep Apnea With Oral Appliances When you seek sleep apnea treatment from us, you can rest assured that you are getting care specifically designed for your situation. We will review the results of your sleep study with a sleep physician. Then, using our knowledge of dental sleep apnea treatment, we will develop a sleep apnea appliance with the help of a lab that focuses on positioning your jaw to open the airway. There are many oral sleep apnea appliances, and each works in a different way. Essentially, they all position the jaw and/or tongue forward. This opens the airway and facilitates easier and more efficient breathing. Oral appliances are not the only treatments available for obstructive sleep apnea. Sometimes the most effective solution for sleep apnea involves two or three treatment options in combination with the oral appliance. CPAP Sleep Apnea Treatment Many physicians are unaware of the neuromuscular causes of obstructive sleep apnea. Their default method of treating sleep apnea is to use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine instead of the oral appliance. CPAP machines force air through a mask that must be worn over the nose and/or mouth throughout the night. The CPAP uses this forced air to hold the airway open with air pressure, ensuring the patient can breathe without interruption. Oral appliances can be used to make CPAP treatment more comfortable by lowering the pressure and water required and freeing the patient of uncomfortable straps and a mask. Orthodontic Sleep Apnea Treatment While not the first treatment that comes to mind for sleep apnea patients, braces can actually be used to re‐position and realign your teeth and jaws by expanding the upper and lower jaw, thereby creating more room in your mouth and ultimately opening the airway. Sleep Apnea Surgery If enlarged tonsils and adenoids are the cause of the obstruction, sometimes they must be removed before an oral sleep apnea appliance will do any good. Surgery can significantly reduce blockage of the airway and increase blood oxygen levels. Surgery should not be considered lightly; while it is usually effective, surgery is a serious and irreversible option. At times, the uvula must also be excised as part of an outpatient procedure performed by an ENT specialist. There are also more aggressive surgeries available such as the UP3 and maxillomandibular expansion and/or advancement. Palatal pillars may be installed as a part of an alternative sleep apnea surgery. These small polyester implants are placed in the soft palate during a single office visit. Unlike removing tonsils, adenoids, or the uvula, this surgery is reversible. The pillars strengthen and reinforce the soft palate, similar to the way concrete is strengthened with rebar. They also prevent the soft palate from vibrating while the patient is sleeping. Treatment for Central and Complex Sleep Apnea Central and complex sleep apnea requires treatment in a close relationship with a physician. In these situations, we will work with the physician to provide an oral sleep apnea appliance called a TAP‐PAP in conjunction with a CPAP air system. By using the appliance, the patient avoids wearing a bulky and uncomfortable mask. Instead, “nasal pillows” guide the air directly into the nose. This allows the patient to reduce the pressure setting required on the CPAP machine. If you live in Orange County, and you’re interested in sleep apnea treatment, contact us today. Call (949) 589‐4100.
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