There are millions of people who struggle to feel fully awake and functional during the day, who feel a lack of concentration and productivity, and become irritable or depressed frequently. Unbeknownst to them, these individuals may be suffering from the sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea. Often thought to be benign snoring, sleep apnea is actually a sleep disorder that has far-reaching negative effects, including impaired judgment and affected relationships, not to mention significant health risks. Left untreated, sleep apnea increases the risk of serious conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Patient Educational Video about Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is more than snoring. This condition is marked by loud, chronic snoring that is accompanied by pauses in breathing during sleep. The person with this sleep disorder may snore loudly and then become silent for ten seconds or longer. During this time, the brain is deprived of necessary oxygen, and it sends signals to rouse sleep. The sleeping person may never fully wake, but will resume breathing with a loud choke or gasp. These episodes may occur from a few times a night to many times per hour, robbing the sufferer of the quality sleep needed for optimal health and function.
Through the years, the standard treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by a blockage in the airway during sleep, has been the CPAP machine. This medical device consists of a small air compressor, which delivers constant air pressure through a long hose and into the airway via a nasal mask worn during sleep. Although this constant delivery of air does keep the airway open, the side effects of this treatment keep many people from complying with use. Some people feel claustrophobic wearing the mask, develop throat or nasal irritation, or even temporary stomach pain from air getting into the stomach.
In many cases of obstructive sleep apnea, there is an alternative, which we provide in our Indianapolis dental practice. In designing a customized oral appliance, your dentist can help you return to a healthy state of sleep by maintaining your jaw in the proper position to facilitate continued airflow throughout sleep. When the jaw is in proper position, the airway will remain open even as muscles surrounding the throat fully relax. Oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea is comfortable enough to boast a high rate of patient compliance in comparison to the standard medical treatment.
Our practitioners can discuss the details of oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea, and determine if this treatment may be suitable for you. Contact our Indianapolis dental office for your visit with one of our experienced practitioners.