What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea or Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder in which a person has pauses in breathing during sleep. Each pause in breathing is called an “apnea” and can last from at least 10 seconds to several minutes. The pause in breathing is caused by physical block in airflow to the lungs.The result is that the flow of oxygen to your brain stops.
Those at the highest risk of experiencing sleep apnea include:
- More than 50% of Sleep Apnea patients are Overweight
- Middle aged men and women (especially after menopause)
- People with thick or large necks (Shirt size over 16 inches in Women, Over 17 inches for Men)
- People with anatomically small airways in the nose, throat, or mouth
Identifying Sleep Apnea (OSA) Symptoms
The most recognizable symptom of sleep apnea is heavy snoring, though many people who snore do not suffer from sleep apnea. People suffering from sleep apnea often experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Daytime Sleepiness
- Dry Mouth or Sore throat upon waking up in the morning
- increased stomach acid
- Trouble concentrating, depression, irritability
- Sexual dysfunction
- Sudden awakenings and gasping for air
- Difficulty getting up in the morning
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is usually diagnosed by a Polysomnogram (PSG) or sleep study. At the dental office of Dr. Cannilla, we work with HomeSleep, LLC®, the most advance in-home obstructive sleep apnea testing solution. Your first visit to our office will begin with an assessment and questionnaire. We’ll discuss your specific sleep disorder before moving onto an airway assessment, where we will look at your baseline airway and collapsed airway with a pharyngometer, an acoustic measuring device.
Next you will be provided with a HomeSleep Testing (HST) device. This small device is worn on the wrist or chest and fingertip while sleeping in your own bed at home. In the morning after testing, the unit is sent back to the testing company, the results are analyzed by sleep physicians, and a report is made about the presence and severity of sleep apnea.
On the day of your home sleep apnea test you will need to follow these simple guidelines:
- Follow your regular daily routine
- Avoid napping
- Eliminate use of caffeine, particularly after lunch
- Go to sleep at your regular bedtime
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
If you are diagnosed with OSA, Dr. Cannilla will discuss treatment options with you and develop a plan. Treatment options for sleep apnea depend on the severity of your individual case and the results of your home sleep test. For minor cases of OSA, treatment could be as simple as changing some of your daily habits such as:
- Avoiding alcohol near bedtime
- Avoiding sleeping on the back
- Use of nasal sprays in people with sinus or nasal congestion
- Losing Weight
For Patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea who cannot tolerate a CPAP machine or are not candidates for surgery, Mandibular Advancement Therapy is the best treatment option. Dr. Cannilla recommends Mandibular Advancement Therapy using dental appliances from SomnoMed®.
We have found through experience that SomnoDent devices are more comfortable than other types of devices because they are custom made to fit the mouth, they do not impinge on the tongue, and the patient can open and close their mouths without the jaws being locked or fixed together.
Other forms of treatment include:
Mechanical Therapy (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or CPAP): This is the preferred initial treatment for most people with sleep apnea. Patients wear a mask over their nose and/or mouth while a mechanical unit at the bedside forces humidified air to prevent the tissues in the airway from collapsing during sleep.
Surgery: Some patients benefit from various surgical procedures that can remove excessive or malformed tissues that could be obstructing airflow during sleep. Common procedures include Somnoplasty, UPPP, and mandibular advancement surgery.
Visit Dr.Cannilla for Your Sleep Apnea Consultation Today!
If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a number of health problems which may include: an increased risk of high blood pressure, depression, stroke, heart attack, organ failure and even death has been linked to sleep apnea.
Schedule a free consultation with Dr. Cannilla and get on the road to recovery right away.