What is obstructive sleep apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea affects approximately 18 million adults in the United States. OSA differs from snoring because of the duration that oxygen is cut off from the brain and body. In essence, the person is suffocating. This suffocating lasts a minimum of 10 seconds and can last up to a full minute, in severe Sleep Apnea. OSA is caused by the repeated collapse of the soft tissue in a person’s throat and blocks the airway during sleep. This is when the oxygen stops going to the brain as well as the rest of the body. As oxygen levels decrease, Carbon Dioxide levels increase which cause an increase in the effort to breath. Eventually the sleeper wakes, loudly gasping for air. After several large gasps for air the oxygen level returns to normal and the person falls back to sleep, only to repeat this cycle again. This cycle can occur hundreds of times per night. This continual drop in oxygen levels can lead to cardiovascular problems over the long term.
Untreated, OSA can have serious consequences. The relentless Daytime Fatigue that often results may lead to failed careers, broken marriages and automobile and workplace Accidents. It can even be Life-Threatening, leading to the development of hypertension, heart failure and stroke. (A 2005 New England Journal of Medicine study found that Sleep Apnea doubles a person’s risk of Stroke over a seven year period)
How can a dentist help my sleep apnea?
The goal of sleep apnea treatment is to alleviate your restless nights in a comfortable and effective manner, thereby likely reducing the health risks associated with sleep apnea and lack of sleep. Treatment options often include lifestyle changes, oral appliances or devices, or in extreme cases, surgery. For patients who require treatment more intensive than lifestyle changes, oral appliance therapy is often preferred as a non-invasive symptom reliever, but does not necessarily “cure” sleep apnea.
Other devices like a Thornton Adjustable Positioner (TAP), the MAS Dorsal Fin device, or a Telescopic device work to reposition a patient’s jaw during sleep, to alleviate snoring and allow for a more peaceful night’s sleep. After a thorough consultation and a debrief of your medical history, your Park Slope sleep apnea dentist Dr. Milito can help you decide the best treatment to relieve your sleep apnea symptoms today!