What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder where an individual repeatedly stops breathing for brief periods of time while sleeping.Typically, air flows constantly from the mouth and nose to the lungs at all times; periods where this comes to a halt is called apnea. With obstructive sleep apnea, the air flow is frequently stopped because the airway space in the throat is very narrow.  If not diagnosed and left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can lead to a number of health risks, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Weight gain

Symptoms Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The most common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea is chronic and loud snoring. The obstructed airway causes snoring followed by gasping or choking. However, not all individuals with obstructive sleep apnea snore. Individuals may also experience:

  • Morning headaches
  • Dry mouth when waking up
  • High blood pressure
  • Night sweats
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Frequent nighttime urination

If you experience most of these symptoms, consult with our specialists about a screening for sleep apnea.   

How Dentistry Can Help With Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder and fortunately, there are several treatment options available, including treatment in a dental office. A proper evaluation of the mouth performed by a dentist can conclude whether or not the patient suffers from sleep apnea. The most common sign of obstructive sleep apnea is teeth grinding. Other common visible signs include a small jaw, redness in the throat (caused by chronic snoring), or a tongue with scalloped edges.

Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

If signs of obstructive sleep apnea are present, a sleep study is recommended by a dentist to finalize the diagnosis. Normally, obstructive sleep apnea is treated with a CPAP device. The CPAP device involves utilizing a breathing face mask during sleep that is attached to a machine that distributes pressurized air through the airway, keeping it open.

A more modern innovative treatment method is the oral appliance therapy. This method helps alleviate the stress on the throat and allow you to breathe freely. An oral appliance is worn in the mouth and is designed to hold the lower jaw forward. The device helps keep the muscles in the throat and tongue from blocking the upper airway. While the CPAP device is very effective, the oral appliance offers several advantages:

  • Convenience. Rather than having to worry about the tubes and wires that come along with the CPAP device, you just simply place the oral appliance into your mouth and you are set.
  • Comfort. You can enjoy a restful nights sleep without the hassle of the wires and noise of the CPAP device. Each oral appliance is also custom-fit for every patients’ mouth.
  • Portable. The fact that the oral appliance is portable and easy to carry makes it very convenient, especially for traveling.

If you or your partner struggle with obstructive sleep apnea, contact (212) 581-1091 to schedule a complimentary consultation!

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