Apnea is a Greek word which literally means “without breath.” There are three types of apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Out of the three, obstructive is the most widespread. Regardless of the differences in the root cause of each type, in all three, people with untreated sleep apnea will stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or even longer.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. In central sleep apnea, the airway is not actually blocked; however the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. Mixed apnea, as the name implies, is a combination of the other two. With each apnea event, the brain briefly arouses the person with sleep apnea in order for them to resume breathing, but accordingly sleep is extremely fragmented and of very poor quality.
Sleep apnea is very common, and it is estimated to affect more than twelve million Americans, according to the National Institute of Health. Some risk factors include being male, overweight, and over the age of forty, and having a short neck, however sleep apnea can strike anyone at any age, even children. Several treatment options exist, and research into additional options continues. The link to dental issues has proven to be significant, and we will be looking further into those treatment areas in this and future articles.
The person suffering with sleep apnea may be unaware of these events, even though they may happen as many as hundreds of times a night, however if snoring is involved, their family is almost certainly aware of the problem!. Unaware or not, these airless episodes last 10 to 30 seconds and may cause the patient lots of trouble, especially in the daytime, having been robbed of a restful nights sleep.
Some Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
Oral Appliance Therapy
Dentists with specialized training in Oral Appliance Therapy are familiar with the numerous designs of appliances available. They can decide which one is best suited for your specific needs. The dentist will work with your physician as part of the medical team in your diagnosis, treatment plan, and on-going care. Determination of appropriate therapy can be best made by joint consultation of your dentist and physician. Initiation of oral appliance therapy can take from several weeks to several months to complete. Your dentist will continue to monitor your treatment and evaluate the response of your teeth and jaws.
Who treats OSA?