Sleep Disordered Breathing

There are two main types of sleep apnea. "Central Sleep Apnea" appears to be related to a malfunction of the brain's normal signal to breathe. It is less common than "Obstructive sleep apnea" which may represent cessation of breathing due to mechanical blockage of the airway.

Prompt and proper diagnosis is an important first step to treating any and all forms of sleep apnea. Problems associated with untreated sleep apnea include hypertension, coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, stroke, psychiatric problems, impotence, cognitive dysfunction, memory loss, and death.

When the muscles of the jaws, soft palate and the tongue become too relaxed during sleep, they can sag and partially or completely block your airway. As you struggle to breathe, your body becomes distressed and you become partially awake, nearly every time this event occurs. These episodes can occur hundreds of times each night, keeping you from reaching the deep, restorative sleep your body requires and putting a great deal of stress on your heart. Since this can have serious consequences, we urge anyone who is concerned about the quality of their sleep to contact their physician or a dental professional with advanced training in dental sleep medicine.

CPAP technology is generally the first treatment recommended; however, non-compliance is extremely high. The second option is Dental Appliance Therapy. Similar in appearance to an athletic mouthguard, these splint-like devices are placed in the mouth during sleep to prevent the blocking of the airway. They function by reposturing the mandible, tongue, soft palate, hyoid bone and by stabilizing the lower jaw. When properly customized for patients by qualified dental professionals, sleep appliances are easy to use, relatively inexpensive and extremely effective in treating mild to moderate OSA. New research is also showing that patients with severe OSA, including those who are CPAP intolerant and/or not candidates for surgery, can also benefit greatly by using a dental sleep appliance.