Sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening condition, is one of the most under-diagnosed sleep disorders. Sleep apnea is a treatable condition in which a person stops breathing, often hundreds of times, during the night. The most significant component of sleep apnea that has captured attention is its association with loud snoring, a common complaint of a bed partner. Although sleepiness and fatigue are often common symptoms of sleep apnea, recent research has linked many other health problems and consequences to sleep apnea.
Symptoms commonly associated with snoring/sleep apnea:
The Polit & Costello Center can treat your snoring and sleep apnea disorder. Thankfully, our expert sleep doctors offer a safe, effective alternative to traditional sleep apnea treatments by fitting you with a customized oral appliance. These appliances are recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and worn in the mouth, just like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic appliance, while you sleep. Oral appliances hold the lower jaw forward just enough to keep the airway open and prevent the tongue and muscles in the upper airway from collapsing and blocking the airway.
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Snoring is the sign of a breathing problem. It occurs when the jaw opens and the tongue falls into the back of the throat, causing the airway to narrow and fording air through the smaller opening. This creates sound vibrations in the throat known as snoring. Snoring can seriously affect your quality of life. It can be embarrassing and inconvenient, and can cause problems in relationships. In some cases, snoring is a red flag for a more serious medical problem called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Sleep Apnea is when the airway is completely blocked and air is unable to flow through the airway. This is also known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The obstruction may occur from the area of the soft palate to below the base of the tongue, causing one to awaken during the night with coughing or a gasping sound, attempting to restore breathing.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
• Snoring • Poor sleep • Fatigue or tiredness • Morning headaches • High blood pressure • Cardiovascular disease • Falling asleep while reading, watching TV or driving • Wake from sleep from coughing, choking or gasping Disorders associated with Snoring/Sleep Apnea • Diabetes • Mood swings • Grinding of the teeth • Gastric reflux • Heart attack/Stroke
Oral appliances are the devices worn in the mouth while sleeping that reposition the lower jaw and tongue to help open the airway. This is accomplished by tensing the muscles that support the airway, which in turn opens or dilates the airway so air can freely move in and out without resistance or obstruction.
Advantages of Oral Appliances
• Posterior support to protect the TMJs • Ability to manage teeth grinding • Freedom of jaw movement with use • Easily modified to accommodate dental work • Does not lock or hold the jaw in a set position • Helps keep the airway open by preventing the jaw and tongue from falling back during sleep • Improves nasal breathing