Sleep apnea is a serious health condition that can present a number of harmful effects on a person’s health and wellbeing when left undiagnosed and untreated. When it comes to treating sleep apnea, there are non-invasive and surgical treatment options. For those who prefer a non-surgical approach to treatment, our dentist offers oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea.
Simply put, sleep apnea is a condition where a person stops breathing because the airway is obstructed by oral tissue during sleep. Oral appliance therapy involves wearing custom mouthguard-like appliances to widen the airway so that breathing is not affected by airway obstruction during sleep.
This type of treatment is comfortable and portable – so that a person can travel without bulky machinery and sleep without loud or uncomfortable respiratory appliances. Oral appliance therapy works by slightly positioning the lower mandible (jaw) forward so that the diameter of the airway is wider.
The Dangers of Untreated Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea causes sleep deprivation by preventing a person from progressing naturally through the stages of sleep and REM. Since a patient is trapped in a cycle of breathing cessation followed by slight wakefulness, he or she may not enter deep sleep or REM long enough.
Sleep deprivation is dangerous to one’s mental and physical wellbeing. Moreover, Interrupted sleep means that the body’s organs and tissues do not regenerate properly. This can cause impaired immunity and persistent lethargy. Since the air exchange is affected, oxygen saturation in the blood is diminished. This can lead to conditions like hypoxemia. Research also suggests that erratic breathing patterns caused by apnea can weaken the cardiovascular system.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosing sleep apnea begins with a sleep study. A professional sleep study will determine if apnea is present and how often it occurs throughout a person’s sleep cycle. Once a sleep study confirms apnea, patients can seek out treatment. Some patients might require surgery but many are candidates for oral appliance therapy.
For more information about treating sleep apnea, contact the office of Dr. Lori Logan to schedule a consultation.