Do you know that approximately 20 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

What is Sleep Apnea and Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

A person who has OSA experiences multiple episodes of breathing pauses (or apneas). The pauses can last 10 seconds or longer, and the person may experience approximately 30-300 pauses each night.

As you can imagine, this causes disrupted sleep patterns— not a peaceful night’s rest that we all need.

This is caused by upper airway narrowing or collapse. When the airway becomes narrow or collapses, a lesser amount of oxygen enters the blood, which is not good. A lesser amount of oxygen in the blood causes the heart to work harder and harder.

When the brain senses a lack of oxygen, you wake up and take a breath, thus causing sleep disruption. During this time, some people choke or gasp for air.

If someone does not have a restful night’s sleep, he or she can experience dangerous situations, such as:

  • Impaired Job Performance
  • Dangerous or Hazardous Driving Conditions
  • Dangerous or Hazardous Equipment Operation


Symptoms of OSA

People can suffer from a wide variety of OSA symptoms, including:

  • daytime drowsiness or sleepiness
  • snoring
  • irritability
  • daytime fatigue
  • forgetfulness
  • falling asleep at inappropriate times
  • suddenly waking up and choking, gasping, or coughing (these are all signs of sleep apnea episodes that cause breath pauses known as apneas)

Is an Oral Appliance for Sleep Apnea Right for You?

These symptoms may seem minor to most people, but they can be signs of a serious sleep disorder—obstructive sleep apnea. If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause life threatening health problems, including:

  • heart attack
  • diabetes
  • stroke
  • other medical issues
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure


Do You Snore Heavily While Sleeping?

Many people do not realize they snore heavily at night because they are obviously sleeping! Well, how do you know if you snore heavily?

  • If you constantly snore while laying down in any position. Someone else will need to determine this for you.
  • If your snoring negatively impacts your bed partner’s sleep, chances are high that you snore heavily enough to wake them at night.

To get properly diagnosed with OSA, you need to undergo a sleep study. This can be conducted in the home or at a sleep laboratory.


Snoring is a Serious Problem

Do you know that snoring causes disruptions in the normal sleep patterns, particularly the REM sleep? This means that, if you snore, you are never really getting adequate rest. Additionally, snoring can be a sign of OSA.


Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea can be treated in various ways. Treatment often depends on the diagnosis and the amount/level of upper airway narrowing.

Three common treatment methods for snoring and OSA include:

  1. CPAP machine (Continous Positive Airway Pressure)
  2. Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD)
  3. Tongue Retaining Devices (TRD)


The CPAP Machine

One treatment option is the CPAP device. Several patients respond very well with CPAP treatment, whereas other patients do not like the CPAP device because it makes them feel uncomfortable. It can also be inconvenient and cumbersome, especially when traveling.

The CPAP works by opening up the person’s airway using a small amount of positive pressure. A nasal mask is used while sleeping.


Oral Appliances to Treat OSA and Snoring

Other treatment options for OSA include the MAD device and the TRD device. MAD devices, also called oral appliances or dental sleep devices, are commonly used to treat snoring and OSA. The MAD device moves the lower jaw (mandible) forward in order to open the airway.

The TRD device works similarly to the MAD. The tongue is controlled by the TRD device in order to hold it in a forward position. The TRD does not use the lower jaw, but focuses solely on the tongue’s position.


Are You Ready for Sleep Apnea and Snoring Relief?

If you want to finally experience a restful night’s sleep without disruptions, Dr. Forester at Lifetime Smiles may choose to treat your sleep apnea with an oral appliance, which many patients prefer as an alternative to CPAP treatment.


How can an oral appliance help me?

Basically, certain oral appliances (such as a MAD device) are designed to open your airway while sleeping, which results in you getting a better night’s sleep (and in turn helps you to wake up feeling rested and revitalized).

If you’re struggling to sleep well, obstructive sleep apnea may be the reason. If you’re experiencing any symptoms related to sleep apnea, give Lifetime Smiles in Johns Creek a call today to schedule your sleep apnea appointment. We look forward to helping you snore less, sleep better, and become a happier, healthier version of yourself!