Obstructive Sleep Apnea, commonly referred to as OSA, occurs when an individual's breathing is interrupted during sleep because of a physical obstruction. Although there are multiple kinds of OSA, the most common reason for this obstruction occurs when a patient's throat or neck muscles relax too much, which collapses the airway. When this happens, the patient's brain sends a signal to the rest of the body to partially wake up, which helps the sufferer to breathe again. Unfortunately, because the patient remains asleep, the process begins again as soon as the neck muscles relax. Patients with severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea can stop breathing over 30 times an hour — severely impeding sleep and depriving the body of the oxygen it needs to function properly. Fortunately, there are a wide array of treatment options that have been proven to be effective.
Because OSA is more common in overweight individuals, your doctor might recommend starting a diet or exercise regimen. Fatty tissues that surround your neck can compress your airway as you sleep, causing or exacerbating OSA symptoms. Alcohol use can cause the muscles to relax, which is why your doctor might recommend refraining from drinking if he or she suspects that you suffer from Sleep Apnea. Also, since smoking can inflame tissues and cause fluid to build up in the area, your doctor might also recommend a smoking cessation program. Simple lifestyle changes, such as sleeping on your side, might also help if you suffer from OSA.
Some people have OSA have a large tongue or a tongue that tends to fall back into the throat, cutting off airflow. To help these patients, Dr. Weyneth might recommend a Tongue Retaining Device, or TRD. These simple oral appliances work by repositioning the tongue and holding it in place, which keeps it from interfering with your nighttime breathing.
OSA can also be caused by an over-relaxation of the throat tissues. To keep these tissues from relaxing and interrupting your breathing, your doctor might recommend a Mandibular Repositioning Device, or MRD. These devices work by moving the lower part of the jaw forward slightly, which helps to support your neck muscles and maintain your breathing. Research has shown that MRDs are effective because they are generally tolerated better than other forms of Sleep Apnea treatment.
A mandibular repositioning device focuses on keeping your jaw out of your airway, while a PAP machine keeps the airway open through air pressure.
Dr. Weyneth is an oral appliance expert, and Sherman Oaks Dental offers over 100 different varieties of oral appliances. If you suffer from Sleep Apnea, Dr. Weyneth will talk with you about your medical history, preferences, and sleeping habits to get a better idea of which device would work best for you. Your MRD will be custom fitted to your teeth and mouth, so that it fits like a glove. MRDs can also be designed to accommodate:
Patients with Sleep Apnea love MRD appliances because unlike CPAP machines, MRDs are small, portable, and barely noticeable during sleep. If you have questions about oral appliance therapy, make an appointment with Sherman Oaks today.
If you suffer from severe Sleep Apnea, your doctor might recommend Positive Airway Pressure therapy, or PAP. There are various types of PAP therapy, but all involve delivering a constant stream of air pressure to your lungs through a facial mask that you wear while you sleep. This pressure props the throat and lungs open, while simultaneously offering the air that you need to breathe.