What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common sleep disorder affecting over 22 million people in the United States. Sleep apnea is characterized by loud or heavy snoring interrupted by the stopping of breathing for more than 10 seconds.
Under diagnosed and frequently dismissed merely as innocent yet annoying snoring, “obstructive sleep apnea” (OSA) is a very dangerous condition. OSA and its associated problems are devastating to overall health, quality of life and mortality. If you or a loved one snore loudly at night, please have a sleep study done to rule out this potentially fatal condition.
The word “apnea” literally means “without breath.”
There are three types of apnea. In all three, people with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer.
- Central sleep apnea, is not caused by a blocked airway but rather the brain’s failure to signal the muscles to breathe.
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common is typically caused when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat or the tongue collapses and closes completely during sleep.
- Mixed apnea, is a combination of the two.
At our Pasadena Texas Dental Office Dr. Nugent can treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
How Does Sleep Apnea Occur?
Sleep Apnea occurs when the airway or passage through which we breathe becomes partially blocked or occluded. An example would be a tongue that falls back and occludes the airway. Also, the tissue of the neck and collapse and block the airway.
These incidences of airway blockage can happen many times per hour and hundreds of times in a night’s sleep. When breathing stops, the brain trades air for sleep until oxygen levels get to low. Then the brain sends out a body wide alert that wakes the patient up. The airway is cleared and the patient goes back to bed all without ever knowing what happened.
Risk factors include being male, overweight, and over the age of forty, but sleep apnea can strike anyone at any age, even children. However, because of the lack of awareness by the public and healthcare professionals, the vast majority of sleep apnea patients are undiagnosed and therefore untreated.
Untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, memory problems, weight gain, impotency, and headaches. Moreover, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for job impairment and motor vehicle crashes. Fortunately, sleep apnea can be diagnosed and treated.
Treatment Options for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) use his pressure air from a bedside machine to blast the airway open with the high-pressure air. The air is brought through a tube that connects to a mask, covering the nose. The patient has to sleep with a mask and is tethered to the machine. This is a very successful treatment option, however it is only a great treatment if it is used! Many patients find their CPAP masks uncomfortable and cumbersome to wear. Plus, patients can get claustrophobia with the masks. The noise created by the machines can also cause difficulty sleeping for the patient and partner. Patients find that the machines are difficult to travel with. Lastly, a proper fitting mask is difficult to find. Patients complain of the mask leaking air, drying out their nose, eye irritation, skin irritation and sore nose.
Do you wear a CPAP? Are you tired of the CPAP? Dr. Nugent has an alternative!
Oral Appliance Therapy (also known as a mandibular advancement device) is completely non-invasive and painless way to treat OSA. It is a custom dental mouthpiece, for patients with primary snoring or mild to moderate Sleep Apnea. They are very comfortable, easy to wear, and easy to travel with.
Oral Appliances work by attempting to prevent the collapse of the tongue and soft tissues in the back of your throat. They accomplish this by moving the lower jaw downward and forward. This keeps the airway open allowing adequate air intake.
Sleep Apnea is a life-threatening disorder and should not go un-treated because you cannot tolerate your CPAP! Dr. Nugent can make a custom-fit plastic mouthpiece for treating sleep apnea. The mouthpiece will adjust your lower jaw and your tongue to help keep your airways open while you sleep.
Contact us to schedule a consultation with us to learn more about sleep apnea. Call our office at 713-941-8261.