Anyone who has had a sleepless night or two knows how lack of sleep can affect your day. For people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), sleep problems continue for a long time and can be very harmful to their health and well-being.
Fortunately, if you are an OSA sufferer, you may be able to find relief at our office in Red Bank, NJ, with an oral appliance. Dr. DiBona has lots of experience helping people who suffer from sleep apnea.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
It’s estimated that about 25 million adults in the U.S. have OSA. The condition can cause them to stop breathing hundreds of times a night, and each time can last a few seconds to more than a minute. But what causes you to stop breathing?
Sleep apnea happens when your muscles relax while you’re sleeping, allowing the soft tissue in your mouth and throat to collapse. This blocks your airway, and that’s when the breathing pauses happen. This reduces your oxygen levels.Over a period of time can become really dangerous to your health.
If you suffer from sleep apnea, you probably wake up with a dry or sore throat. You may also experience sleepiness and fatigue during the day, morning headaches, memory loss and even erectile dysfunction.
If you have sleep apnea and you leave it untreated, over time it can also raise your risk for these serious health problems:
- Heart disease
- Acid reflux (which, in the long-term, can cause even more serious issues)
- High blood pressure
How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
Dr. DiBona can order an at-home sleep study to provide you with the diagnosis you need for your condition. The study is conducted in your home while you sleep. A small device will record your sleeping patterns. Dr. DiBona will interpret the results and set up a treatment plan for you.
You can also opt to have the study done off-site in a lab. Dr. DiBona works with the specialist who performs the sleep study, and will interpret and discuss the results with you.
One of the treatment options for sleep apnea is CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy. You’ve probably seen one of these machines. It’s a constantly-running machine that connects to a mask you wear on your face as you sleep.
A lot of people find the CPAP mask uncomfortable to wear, and it keeps them from getting a good night’s sleep, which is kind of the point of using it!
Research has shown that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. The appliance is worn in the mouth while you sleep, much like a sports mouthguard.
It supports your jaw in a forward position, which helps keep the upper airway open, allowing you to breathe. Most patients find that the dental appliance is much more comfortable than a CPAP mask.
Patients like oral appliance therapy because:
- It’s comfortable
- It’s quiet (no loud humming from a CPAP machine)
- It’s portable
- It’s convenient for travel
If we determine that oral appliance therapy is a good fit for you, we’ll get started. We’ll conduct a complete exam, examining your teeth, jaw, tongue, and airway. Then we’ll have an appliance custom made for you.
Your appliance should be worn every night to be effective. The goal is to resolve the sleep apnea by repositioning your lower jaw.
Our dental team will follow your progress during treatment. We’ll address any issues you have with fit and comfort.
You may feel some tenderness in the muscles and joints in your mouth as you get accustomed to wearing your appliance.
Treatment of sleep apnea with an oral appliance can help you feel like a new person. The results may lead to more energy during your day and an increase in your mental capacity and memory.
This is just another example of how your dentist can help treat health problems to help you sleep better and improve your life!