Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Snoring is a breathing disorder caused by narrowing of the airway during sleep. Snoring is the noise created by partial closure of the airway. In many cases snoring is the precursor to a more serious breathing disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Occasionally heart attack and stroke
A definitive diagnosis of OSA should be made by a sleep specialist physician and may require an overnight sleep test. Snoring, on the other hand, is easily diagnosed by anyone in the vicinity of the snorer and doesn't require any expertise per se. Snoring does not change the rhythm of the breathing cycle and is not a threat to health or life. However, it can be very disruptive to anyone trying to sleep in the same room.
Treatment of Sleep Apnea
Oral appliances, which are primarily constructed and fitted by a dentist, are usually helpful in the treatment of both snoring and OSA. Since this form of treatment is rather new in the field of dentistry, relatively few dentists have the knowledge or have developed the expertise to treat these types of problems. Many times a team approach with a physician who is a sleep specialist is necessary to help resolve the more serious sleep disorders. Often a breathing machine, called a C-PAP machine, is necessary to correct the problems associated with OSA.
Those diagnosed with mild or moderate OSA are good candidates for improvement with oral appliances. The purpose of an oral appliance is to maintain an open airway during sleep and permit regular, normal, quiet breathing. While these devices have excellent records in the majority of patients there are no guarantees that this therapy will be successful for every individual due to physiological and anatomical variations, excessive weight and individual tolerance to the appliance.
There could be temporary side effects from wearing this device such as excess salivation, sore jaw or muscles, sore teeth, or a slight change in the "bite". If these don't disappear after an hour or so after inserting the appliance in the evening or removing it in the morning some adjustments may need to be made to the appliance. Call the dental office immediately to have this done.
Individuals who have been diagnosed with OSA may notice that after sleeping with this oral appliance may feel more refreshed and alert during the day. This is only subjective evidence of improvement. The only way to measure whether the appliance is keeping the oxygen level sufficiently high to prevent abnormal heart rhythms is to have a consultation with a sleep specialist physician and a follow-up sleep test while wearing the appliance.
We have constructed numerous oral appliances with extremely good success in most patients with sleep-disordered breathing.
For more information on Sleep Apnea and its treatment options, call our Salem, OR office at (503) 378-1212 today!