The majority of people who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea are not aware they have this dangerous condition. They may wonder why they wake in the morning with headaches, feeling groggy and sleepy throughout the day. The condition poses many dangers including the increased risk of accident because sufferers may fall asleep at work or while driving.
Accidents are not the only risk to your health from Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The condition results in breathing stoppages which may occur up to several hundred times each night, robbing the body of oxygen and damaging the heart and lungs. Studies have proven links between untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea and stroke, heart disease, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and early death.
Diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea is made following a sleep study, either in a sleep lab using a Polysomnogram or with a more convenient take-home sleep device such as the Watch PAT-200, which allows testing in the comfort of your own home. These testing options all monitor your breathing and oxygen levels during sleep to arrive at a diagnosis.
Once diagnosed, there are various treatment options ranging from surgery to easy-to-use oral appliances. The gold standard of treatment for many years has been the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device. The CPAP machine uses pressurized air administered through tubing and a face mask to keep your airway open while sleeping. Most people, however, find sleeping with the device uncomfortable and cannot continue using the device for the long term.
In contrast, oral appliance therapy has been proven to be effective, and recent studies have shown that patients continue to wear their oral appliances for many years quite comfortably. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine now “recommends oral appliances for managing snoring and sleep apnea in patients with mild and moderate sleep apnea and those severe cases where a patient refuses to use CPAP or is CPAP intolerant”. Additionally, they state that “oral appliances should be fitted by qualified dental personnel who are trained and experienced in the overall care of oral health, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), dental occlusion (the bite) and associated oral structures (muscles of chewing).”
Donald Wilcox, D.D.S., your Phoenix sleep apnea dentist, has received extensive training in neuromuscular dentistry which includes the working of the jaw joint and related muscles. As your Phoenix Dental Sleep Medicine practitioner, Dr. Wilcox is uniquely qualified to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea using oral appliance therapy.
If you have been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea or suspect that you may suffer from this condition, please contact our Phoenix, Arizona sleep apnea dentist without delay. Diagnosis and treatment of your obstructive sleep apnea will improve your health and quality of life.