Role of Orthodontics in Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep apnea is a common condition that falls under the umbrella term, Sleep Disordered Breathing. With sleep apnea your breathing stops periodically during sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. The lack of oxygen to the brain basically wakes you up, just to breathe properly. You may not even know it is happening, and that is why you should ask yourself a few questions.

What are the signs of sleep apnea?
Do you snore loudly or wake up breathless in the middle of the night? Are you drowsy during the day with no explanation (daytime narcolepsy)? Do you actually fall asleep unintentionally during the day, even when driving? If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be one of more than 12 million Americans who are affected by sleep apnea.

So what is causing this?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is more common in males than females, and more common in older adults (40+) than younger adults and children. OSA occurs due to a physical blockage, usually the collapsing of the soft tissue in the back of the throat. Orthodontists are the only specialty that can change the structure of the mouth and face.

How can we help?
Undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious complications such as heart attack, glaucoma, diabetes, cancer, and cognitive and behavioral disorders. Contact our practice, and we can refer you to a sleep apnea specialist. The specialist may recommend a sleep study to diagnose the precise extent of the problem, and can prescribe appropriate treatment.

Once a Sleep Physican does a sleep study a diagnosis can be rendered and usually a CPAP is recommended and tittered for the individual! Oftentimes, many find CPAP’s are too cumbersome secondary to the mask and air hose and thus as an adjunct and/or an alternative an OAT is prescribed. Oral Appliance Therapy is a jaw advancing/opening device that is tooth borne and fabricated by trained dental specialists!

Dr. Randy Feldman is a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. As Chief Smile Officer of Blue Wave Orthodontics he has been treating 100’s of local patients with custom created “sleep enhancing appliances” since the 1980’s with unmatched success. “It is a wonderful alternative to the dreaded CPAP machine, and less cumbersome says one well rested patient, and not so scary chimes in his wife!”