Have you been told that you snore? Do you wake up gasping for air or ever been told that you appear to have stopped breathing during sleep?
Millions of Americans suffer with sleep-related breathing disorders, including chronic snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Treatment of these conditions is managed by a sleep physician, and in mild to moderate cases, dentists are able to provide support with oral sleep appliances.
Snoring occurs when the soft tissues of the throat relax and sag during sleep; this causes them to vibrate when breathing, creating the snoring sound. Snoring is more common in men than women, however does occur frequently in women during pregnancy and menopause. Obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption, obstructed nasal passages are also common factors in snoring.
Occasional snoring related to illness or being very tired is not unusual for most people. Frequent, loud snoring, however, can be a sign of sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by loud snoring, gasping or choking sounds and stopped breathing during sleep. This occurs when the throat tissues and muscles that support the airway relax to the extent that the airway becomes closed, causing the body to stop breathing in repeated intervals. As a result, the body is deprived of the necessary oxygen and restful sleep that it needs to function properly.
Sleep apnea can cause daytime drowsiness and morning migraine headaches. Over time, untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
A physician that specializes in sleep medicine will confirm a diagnosis of sleep apnea by conducting sleep study tests, either at home or in a sleep center. The doctor will then recommend treatment based on the severity of the symptoms and the needs of the patient. Treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea generally include:
Studies have shown that oral sleep appliances can be an effective therapy for mild to moderate sleep apnea, or a viable alternative therapy for patients that are not able to tolerate CPAP systems.
Oral sleep appliances vary in style, but look similar to a mouthguard worn in sports. They are designed to maintain the position of the lower jaw in a forward position to allow the airway to stay open during sleep.
After a complete dental examination with necessary digital xrays and study models, Dr. Booth will work with the sleep physician to design an oral sleep appliance that is a custom fit for the patient. He and the sleep doctor work together to monitor the patient's response to treatment, and may adjust therapy as needed to address symptoms. Some patients use both an oral appliance and CPAP therapy to help manage OSA.
Snoring is not fun, especially for a bed partner! If you or a loved one is experiencing frequent, loud snoring, gasping for air during sleep, morning migraine headaches or daytime drowsiness, ask your medical doctor or Contact Dr. Howard Booth and Team to schedule a consultation visit in our Macon dental office.