What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea | Sullivan Dental Center LAIn September 1995 the American Sleep Disorder Association (ASDA) endorsed oral appliance therapy as the third currently acceptable treatment modality for snoring and sleep apnea. The two most common solutions include continuous positive air pressure or the removal of either the excess palatal tissue or the uvula.

It has been estimated that 60% of men and 40% of women between the ages of 40 and 60 years of age snore. Snoring occurs when there is a partial obstruction of the airway which causes the palatal tissues to vibrate. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway is completely blocked for certain periods of time. As many as 20 million people in North America may have sleep apnea. Snoring is a social problem, particularly for the spouse, but obstructive sleep apnea poses a significant health risk for the patient. It can lead to irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.

what is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a type of breathing disorder which is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep.

Types of Apnea

There are basically three types of apnea:

Central Apnea
The upper airway is open, but no oxygen is getting into the system. This occurs because the patient is not getting a chemical response from the brain to stimulate the lungs and the diaphragm to assist with breathing.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The lungs and the diaphragm are functioning normally, but no oxygen is entering the system because there is an obstruction in the upper airway.

Mixed Apnea
This is a combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Oral appliances are only indicated for use in patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The signs and symptoms of OSA include:

  • Snoring
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Gasping or choking during the night
  • Non-refreshed sleep
  • Fragmented sleep
  • Clouded memory
  • Irritability
  • Personality changes
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Impotence
  • Morning headaches.

Factors that affect obstructive sleep apnea are as follows:

  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol
  • Sedative Hypnotics (sleeping pills)

Can Children suffer from Sleep apnea?

Children can also snore and suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Often they are highly allergic and their airway is blocked due to enlarged adenoids, tonsils or swollen nasal mucosa. Clinical signs would indicate a:

  • Turned up nose
  • Allergic shiners under the eyes
  • Mucous draining out of the nose
  • Mouth breathing
  • A nasal sound to the voice

Other signs are:

  • Bed wetting
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty in concentrating at school
  • Hyperactivity

Can a dental professional help treat Sleep Apnea?

The dental profession has an important role to play in the treatment of patients with snoring and sleep apnea. If 60% of men and 40% of women between forty and sixty years of age snore, this is a huge problem. Snoring is a serious social problem for the spouse, but obstructive sleep apnea can be a life-threatening situation for the patient in that it can lead to irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and strokes.

At the present time, obstructive sleep apnea is a medical condition that is being controlled and treated mainly by the medical profession. Despite the fact that in September 1995, the American Sleep Disorder Association finally endorsed oral appliance therapy as the third currently acceptable treatment method for snoring and sleep apnea, the vast majority of the medical doctors are not aware of the value of oral appliances

As time goes on, the public is going to become more aware of the health risks associated with snoring and sleep apnea. It is the dental professional responsibility to educate their members, the public and the medical profession about the important role that dentists and oral appliances play in the treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.

Why Choose Sullivan Dental?

Dr. Frank has been treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea since 2007. He has over three hundred hours of continuing education courses in this concentrated area. The treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea includes a mouth appliance that keeps the lower jaw forward and prevents the airway from closing. Sullivan Dental currently has 250 patients wearing sleep appliances to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Dr. Candice Sullivan has been treating children with obstructed airways for the past 15 years. She evaluates the airway at each hygiene appointment and uses sleep appliances that will improve the airway and eliminate sleep apnea.

Schedule a consultation

For more information on Sleep Apnea, Call Sullivan Dental Center today at 225-635-4422 to schedule a consultation and find out more about the services we offer.

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