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Appliance Therapy for Sleep Apnea

charlotte north carolina nc dentist

Having trouble with your CPAP?

Dr. Krueger has a special interest in treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). If you would like to consider an alternative treatment option Oral Appliance Therapy may be for you.

While CPAP is considered the gold standard for treatment of OSA, some patients have difficulties with these cumbersome devices. Oral Appliance Therapy is an alternative to CPAP and may be the first choice for treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea.

Oral Appliances are placed in the mouth and are worn much like an orthodontic appliance or sports mouth protector. They are worn during sleep to prevent the collapse of the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat so that the airway stays open during sleep. The appliances promote adequate air intake and help to provide normal sleep in people who snore and have sleep apnea.

Oral appliances can be used alone or in conjuction with other means of therapy such as continuous positive air pressure (CPAP). Determination of proper therapy can only be made by joint consultation of our office and your sleep physician.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the soft tissue in a person's throat repeatedly collapses and blocks the airway during sleep.

These partial reductions and complete pauses in breathing typically last between 10 and 30 seconds, but can persist for one minute or longer. These pauses can happen hundreds of times a night, leading to abrupt reductions in blood oxygen levels.

The brain alerts the body to its lack of oxygen, causing a brief arousal from sleep that retores normal breathing. The result is a fragmented quality of sleep that often leads to excessive daytime sleepiness.

Most people with OSA snore loudly and frequently, with periods of silence when airflow is reduced or blocked. They make choking, snorting or gasping sounds when their airway reopens.Dentists are not permitted to diagnose sleep apnea. Diagnosis should be done at an accredited sleep center in coordination with a medical sleep physician.

Here are some tips for dealing with snoring:

Avoid sleeping on your back. Sew a tennis ball into the back of a t-shirt and wear that as your pajama top to prevent you from rolling on your back.

- Raise the head of the bed 4 inches or so.

- Lose weight.

- Avoid drinking alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime. Do not take a drink to help you fall asleep- Stop smoking

-Avoid medications that relax the muscles (if possible)

- Don't eat a heavy meal within three hours of bedtime.

- Ask your bed partner to wake you if you snore.

- Exercise to improve your physical condition.-Try nasal strips or nasal dilators to keep the nostrils open.- Ask your dentist about oral appliances to help stop snoring and control sleep apnea.

- If the problem is really severe and/or if you stop breathing during sleep, get checked by a sleep physician. He or she may recommend a CPAP machine, surgery or an oral appliance.

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