Category: Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

As a former dentist and an expert in the field of sleep disorders, Dr. Avi Weisfogel outlines some of the most common methods of treating International Academy of Sleepsleep apnea:

If you believe you may have sleep apnea it’s best to go see your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will assess the type and severity of the condition and prescribe a treatment options based upon that.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most common treatment for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. This treatment option is a mode of respiratory ventilation involving the use of a specially designed mask. This mask is connected to a pump that continuously pumps air through the nasal passage to keep the airway open.

 Oral Appliances

There are currently over 100 different oral devices available for the treatment of sleep apnea. There oral appliances are worn in the mouth similar to the way that a sports mouth guard is worn or an orthodontic device. These oral appliances are designed to hold the lower jaw forward and keep the airway open, preventing the tongue and upper airway muscles from collapsing. Oral appliances are often used as a first line of treatment for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. After assessing your sleep apnea, your dentist will pick the oral appliance best suited for you.

Surgery

Several different surgical options can be pursued for more severe cases of sleep apnea. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), is the most common sleep apnea surgical procedure. This procedure involves removing excess tissue from the soft palate and pharynx and adding in sutures to keep the airway open. UPPP is highly effective and has been the go-to surgical procedure for many cases of sleep apnea over the last 25 years.

Nasal surgery is also a common surgical treatment for sleep apnea. There are three common areas of the nose that can contribute to sleep apnea: the septum, the turbinates, and the nasal valve. Common nasal surgical procedures for treating sleep apnea involve straightening the septum and reducing the size of the turbinates. Nasal airways are increased and breathing becomes easier as a result.

The Pillar Procedure

Soft palate implants, commonly known as the Pillar Procedure is an effective and minimally invasive treatment option for more mild cases of sleep apnea. Three polyester rods are placed in the soft palate which initiate an inflammatory response of the soft tissue in the area. The soft palate thus becomes stiffer, reducing the symptoms of sleep apnea.

The Role of Dentists in Diagnosing and Treating Sleep Disorders

Do you often find yourself waking up tired despite getting enough sleep? Have you been told that you snore loudly and often? If that is the case, you may have sleep apnea, one of the most common sleep disorders. Dr. Avi Weisfogel dives into the subject of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that goes undiagnosed much too often, and explains how your dentist can help if you think you may suffer from this disease.

Sleep Apnea – A Common Sleep Disorder

Sleep apnea is characterized by a blocked upper respiratory system during sleep, resulting in heavy snoring and even choking. Pauses in breathing can be as short as a few seconds or as long as minutes and can occur as much as 30 times per hour.

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, about 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Although this sleep disorder is gaining more recognition, many people are still unaware of the life-damaging and life-shortening effects of this disease – in fact, it is estimated that 80% of people suffering from moderate or severe sleep apnea have not been diagnosed.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

This sleep disorder is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue
  • Insomnia or sleep deprivation
  • Heavy snoring or mouth breathing
  • Periods of no breathing during sleep
  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Headaches
  • Irritability

These symptoms are caused by the restricted oxygen brought on by a blocked respiratory system.

Dr. Avi Weisfogel stresses the dangers of sleep apnea – since this disease often goes undiagnosed, too many people live with its consequences during long periods of time and suffer life-shortening consequences such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Accidents caused by falling asleep (automobile or at work)

Consult Your Dentist

Dr Avi Weisfogel Dentist

If you think you may have sleep apnea, Dr. Avi Weisfogel highly recommends consulting with your dentist for diagnosis and treatment because your oral health could be linked to the condition. For instance, if your tongue is too large or your jaw is too small, this can cause airway obstructions and be at the root of a blocked respiratory system causing pauses in breathing.

In addition, the first signs of sleep apnea can have a direct on your oral health. As an example, people suffering from sleep apnea often grind their teeth, meaning a dentist can look for signs of wear on your teeth’s surface as well as inflamed and receding gums.

Suggested Treatment

If your dentist diagnoses you with sleep apnea, he or she may suggest different types of treatment depending on the severity of your symptoms.

One of the most successful treatments of moderate and severe sleep apnea is the use of airway pressure machines during sleep – this consists of wearing a mask delivering oxygen through the nasal cavity during the night.

However, your dentist may suggest lifestyle changes such as weight loss and reduced alcohol consumption, and in extreme cases, surgery.

Dr. Avi Weisfogel urges you to trust your dentist when it comes to the treatment of sleep apnea. Although some procedures may be difficult to get used to, many people see a huge improvement in their quality of life when sleep apnea is controlled.