Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
Do you suffer from sleep apnea? If so, our dentist, Dr. Christine Chen, can help diagnose and treat your sleep apnea. At Valley Smiles, we want to work with our patients to improve their dental health and overall health. To find out more about sleep apnea treatment or to schedule an appointment in Renton, Washington, please call us today at 425-271-1727
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder marked by interruptions and pauses in breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by obstructions in the airway, such as the tongue rolling back in the throat or collapsed tissues in the airway. Untreated sleep apnea can contribute to several serious health conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and liver problems.
Common Signs of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea must be diagnosed by a sleep physician. We recommend that you talk to your dentists, as well as your doctor, if you suffer from the symptoms of sleep apnea. Common signs of sleep apnea include:
- Extreme drowsiness during the day
- Personality changes and irritability
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Awakening with a very dry or sore throat
- Frequent morning headaches
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Sleep apnea treatment may depend on the severity of the condition. If you suffer from mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, our dentists may recommend an oral appliance. The oral appliance works to treat obstructive sleep apnea by fitting over your teeth and keeping your airway open while you sleep. It can work by preventing the tongue from blocking the air passage or by holding your jaw in a position that prevents airway blockages during sleep. For more information on sleep apnea treatment, we welcome you to call or visit our dental practice today. We are committed to helping you improve your health!
Oral Appliance Therapy
Our practice specializes in fitting patients with a custom fabricated oral appliance to manage sleep apnea. The appliance works by holding your mandible (lower jaw) in a precise open and forward position and by doing so all the soft tissues in your throat and neck are no longer able to collapse and cause the nighttime choking and suffocating episodes. The appliance we make will be custom made for your teeth and will fit much like a sports mouth guard. Oral appliances are a very comfortable and easy to use solution for managing sleep apnea and snoring and they are also an excellent alternative to CPAP therapy for patients who find it difficult to tolerate. In 2015 the American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued updated practice parameters recommending the use of custom fabricated oral appliances made by specially trained dentists for patients with snoring and sleep apnea who prefer the mouthpiece over CPAP or who have tried CPAP and are unable to continue daily use.
Advantages of Oral Appliance Therapy
- Appliances are easy to wear and comfortable to use
- Appliances are small, noiseless and barely noticeable.
- Appliances are convenient to travel with
- Appliances don’t bother bed partners
- Appliances reduce self-consciousness that many report feeling with CPAP use.
- Appliances are not permanent, use can be discontinued anytime
- Appliances are typically covered by medical insurance and Medicare
Oral Appliance Therapy Is a Good Option for
- People with Primary Snoring
- People with mild to moderate apnea or people with severe apnea who are unable to tolerate or refuse to try CPAP.
- People who cannot tolerate the high pressure of CPAP
- People with healthy, disease-free teeth
- People who want to travel without having to bring a CPAP machine
Not All Oral Appliances Are the Same
At our practice we work with the Respire line of oral appliances. These devices are manufactured to strict standards and are FDA cleared specifically to manage Sleep Apnea. Additionally, we use state-of-the-art acoustic imaging technology to ensure your jaw is held in precisely the correct position with the appliance. “at home appliance kits” and other bulky non-custom devices may claim to help with snoring but are not nearly as comfortable or successful as the appliances we use.
Am I a Candidate for an Oral Appliance?
Most people are great candidates for an oral appliance. The only way to tell for sure would be to come in for a complimentary consultation at our office. When you come in we will test your airway using our Eccovision Acoustic Diagnostic Imaging system and we may also send you home with a portable sleep apnea monitor. Once everything is reviewed the doctor will discuss treatment options with you.
CPAP is the traditional gold standard for the management of sleep apnea. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Air Pressure and it works by pumping room air through a hose into a nasal mask that is strapped to the patient’s head. Constant pressure in the airway pushes the collapsible tissues out of the way and maintains and open/stable airway.
While highly effective at managing sleep apnea CPAP has proven to be difficult to tolerate for many patients and a large majority of CPAP users are “non-compliant” within 6 months. If you are having a hard time wearing your CPAP every night please contact us, there are other options and it is imperative that you do something to manage your OSA.
There are a few surgical options designed to reduce or remove excess tissue in the airway. Our doctor will review and discuss these options with you if indicated.