What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep. These interruptions, called apneas, can last for seconds to minutes and result in disrupted sleep patterns.
- The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), where the airway becomes blocked or collapses, limiting airflow.
- Central sleep apnea (CSA) is less common and occurs when the brain fails to send proper signals to the muscles controlling breathing.
Symptoms may include loud snoring, choking or gasping during sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, and difficulty concentrating. Learn more here.
Sleep apnea can contribute to various health issues, including cardiovascular problems, and prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential for overall well-being. Learn how Sleep Apnea Impacts Your Health in More Ways Than Snoring.
More information about sleep apnea from the National Sleep Foundation.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options:
Sleep apnea oral appliance therapy is considered an alternative to using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine for the treatment of sleep apnea. Both CPAP and oral appliances are effective interventions, but they work in different ways to address the underlying issues of sleep apnea.
- CPAP is a standard and highly effective treatment for sleep apnea.
- It involves wearing a mask over the nose and/or mouth during sleep, which is connected to a machine that delivers a continuous stream of pressurized air to keep the airway open.
- The increased air pressure prevents the collapse of the airway, reducing or eliminating apneas and snoring.
Oral Appliance Therapy:
- Oral appliances are custom-made devices, resembling mouthguards or dental retainers, that are worn in the mouth during sleep.
- They work by repositioning the lower jaw (mandible) and tongue to help keep the airway open, preventing the collapse that leads to apneas.
- There are different types of oral appliances, such as mandibular advancement devices (MADs) and tongue-retaining devices.
Considerations for Choosing Between CPAP and Oral Appliance Therapy:
- Patient Preference: Some individuals may find wearing a CPAP mask uncomfortable and prefer the smaller, less obtrusive nature of oral appliances.
- Treatment Tolerance: While CPAP is highly effective, some people may have difficulty adjusting to the sensation of forced air. Oral appliances can be more tolerable for certain individuals.
- Treatment Compliance: Patient compliance is crucial for the success of sleep apnea treatment. Individuals are more likely to consistently use a therapy they find comfortable and suitable for their lifestyle.
- Severity of Sleep Apnea: The choice between CPAP and oral appliances may depend on the severity of sleep apnea. CPAP is often recommended for more severe cases, while oral appliances are considered effective for mild to moderate sleep apnea.
It’s important for individuals with sleep apnea to undergo a thorough evaluation by Dr. Skrobanek to determine the most appropriate treatment option based on their specific needs, preferences, and the severity of their condition. In some cases, a combination of therapies or lifestyle modifications may be recommended to optimize treatment outcomes.
Dr. Skrobanek Can Help
Because of Dr. Skrobanek’s membership through the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, he has completed education, coursework, workshops, and on-going training to enhance his knowledge and skills in the field of dental sleep medicine. This training is essential for understanding the complexities of sleep disorders and effective treatment options.
Treatments: Sleep Apnea Oral Appliance Therapy
Dr. Skrobanek offers sleep apnea oral appliance therapy at GPS Dental because it is a non-invasive treatment option for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and is sometimes used for individuals with severe sleep apnea who cannot tolerate or do not respond well to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. It involves the use of a custom-made oral appliance, often resembling a sports mouthguard or orthodontic retainer, that can be made by Dr. Skrobanek to help keep your airway open during sleep.
Here’s how sleep apnea oral appliance therapy works …
- How it Works: The oral appliance is designed to reposition the lower jaw (mandible) and tongue to prevent the collapse of the airway during sleep. By repositioning these structures, the appliance helps maintain an open and unobstructed airway, reducing the likelihood of apneas (temporary pauses in breathing) and snoring.
- Customization: Oral appliances used in sleep apnea treatment are custom-made for each individual. Dr. Skrobanek will take impressions of your teeth and create a device that fits comfortably in your mouth.
- Types of Appliances: There are various types of oral appliances, but they generally fall into two categories, mandibular advancement devices (MADs) and tongue-retaining devices. MADs are the most common and work by repositioning the lower jaw forward. Tongue-retaining devices hold the tongue in a forward position to keep it from falling back and obstructing the airway.
- Effectiveness: Oral appliance therapy can be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of apneas and improving sleep quality. It is often considered for individuals who find CPAP therapy uncomfortable or who prefer a more portable and less obtrusive treatment option.
- Patient Selection: Oral appliances are typically recommended for individuals with mild to moderate sleep apnea. However, they may also be considered for some individuals with severe sleep apnea, especially if CPAP therapy is not suitable or well-tolerated.
- Treatment Monitoring: After the initial fitting, regular follow-up visits with Dr. Skrobanek are essential to monitor the effectiveness of the oral appliance and make any necessary adjustments to ensure your device is providing optimal results.
- Advantages: Oral appliances are generally well-tolerated and easy to use. They are also portable, making them convenient for travel. Unlike CPAP machines, oral appliances do not require electricity and are silent, which is appealing to most of our patients.
- Combination Therapy: In some cases, oral appliance therapy may be used in combination with other treatment modalities, such as weight management, positional therapy, or surgery, depending on the individual’s specific needs.
It’s important to note that oral appliance therapy is not suitable for everyone, and its effectiveness can vary from person to person. A thorough evaluation by Dr. Skrobanek because of his expertise in dental sleep medicine is crucial to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for his patients with sleep apnea.
Related Article: Mouthguards Protect Your Smile: They Aren’t Just for Athletes
Are You a Candidate for Sleep Apnea Oral Appliance Therapy?
Talk to Dr. Skrobanek and the GPS Dental team about treatment options for sleep apnea and snoring. Ask if oral appliance therapy might be the right solution for you. Get help today to improve your sleep and your health!
Dr. Gary P. Skrobanek’s experienced and friendly team at GPS Dental offers affordable dental care for all ages in San Antonio, TX area. Our Brooks City Base dentist office is conveniently located and offers early morning appointment times Monday through Friday to meet your needs. At GPS Dental, we promote dental health awareness to our patients and provide most dental services, from family and general dentistry to dental implants, sleep apnea, TMJ / TMD Treatment, cosmetic dentistry and much more. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Call us at 210-633-3477 to make an appointment.