Solutions for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. It is often characterized by loud snoring, difficulty staying asleep, and sleep that is not restful. In addition to being disruptive, it can lead to serious health problems. If you are diagnosed with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, our Kenilworth dentist may be able to provide a solution. Dr. Art Carpenter offers the Thornton Adjustable Positioner (TAP®), a simple, patient-friendly treatment option for snoring and sleep apnea. To learn more, schedule a consultation today.
About Sleep Apnea
There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax and narrow or close your airway when you breathe. This causes the level of oxygen in the blood to drop, and alerts the brain to briefly rouse you so you can replenish your oxygen. The awakening is typically so brief that you do not notice or remember it. Central sleep apnea, by contrast, is most often caused by heart failure and stroke. It occurs when your brain fails to signal your breathing muscles to work. It produces similar symptoms to obstructive sleep apnea. Only obstructive sleep apnea can be treated with a dental device.
Certain risk factors have been found to put patients at an increased risk for obstructive sleep apnea. Some of these include excess weight, a thick neck, a narrowed airway, family history, smoking, nasal congestion, and use of alcohol or sedatives. Males are twice as likely to have the disorder, and it is significantly more prevalent in adults over 60.
Left untreated, sleep apnea can have serious, life-threatening complications. These may include:
- High blood pressure: The sudden drops in blood oxygen raise blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system.
- Heart problems: If there is underlying heart disease, the repeated episodes of low blood oxygen can lead to sudden death from a cardiac event.
- Additional risks: Studies show that obstructive sleep apnea is also associated with increased risk of stroke, atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, and other vascular diseases.
Other problems associated with sleep apnea include loud snoring, restless sleep, memory problems, mood swings, morning headaches, and depression.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Sleep apnea is diagnosed by your primary care doctor or a sleep specialist. It may involve an overnight sleep study, or a home sleep test.
The treatments for obstructive sleep apnea include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, oral appliances, and surgery. CPAP delivers pressurized air through a mask placed over your nose while you sleep. Although it is usually effective, many patients find it cumbersome or uncomfortable. Oral appliances work by bringing your jaw forward to keep the airway open. They are also effective, and generally easier to use.
Dr. Carpenter provides sleep apnea therapy with the TAP® appliance, which has a high success rate. Through a series of jaw measurements that gauge range of motion, Dr. Carpenter adjusts and customizes each appliance. He closely monitors progress and improvement throughout treatment. With a second sleep study, treatment success can be confirmed. Patients may then continue to use the TAP® on their own. TAP® has a unique adjustable design for maximum benefit.
Living with sleep apnea can affect every aspect of your life. Contact our office for a personal consultation to learn more about finding relief.