When left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can result in serious long-term complications caused by reduced oxygen intake from disrupted or halted breathing while sleeping. In particular, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine notes that the cardiovascular effects of OSA have been linked to an increased risk of stroke, higher rate of death due to heart disease, increased heart rate, and chronic elevated blood pressure.
The dentists at Saco River Dentistry are highly trained and experienced in the assessment and treatment of sleep apnea. In particular, Dr. Nicholas Roy has been named a Qualified Dentist by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM). Dr. Roy and our team can recommend a sleep apnea treatment plan that meets your needs based on a thorough evaluation of your condition. Read below for information on two of the most common sleep apnea treatment options as well as recommended lifestyle changes that may help alleviate symptoms.
Traditionally, for moderate to severe OSA, a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine used nightly may be recommended. This treatment option requires patients to wear a specialized mask over their face while they sleep, and the connected CPAP machine keeps a patient’s airways open and delivers a consistent stream of pressurized air. CPAP therapy can be very effective, as it prevents pauses in breathing and supplies normal oxygen levels. However, in order to be truly effective, the patient must be compliant with wearing their CPAP device as directed by their doctor. While various sizes and styles of masks are now available, some patients find the treatment uncomfortable and difficult to commit to.
Customized Oral Appliance Therapy
For mild to moderate OSA, customized oral appliance therapy can provide some of the most effective treatment for breathing improvement during sleep—especially for those who do not tolerate their CPAP machine well. The custom-fitted appliance looks similar to a mouth guard and works by repositioning or stabilizing the jaw, tongue, and other supporting structures to allow an unobstructed, clear airway while you sleep. Dr. Roy and the team of dentists at Saco River Dentistry are highly skilled in implementing a type of custom oral appliance known as a mandibular advancement device (MAD), which patients have praised for its ease of use, greater portability, and comfortable design. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, MADs have also been indicated as a first-line therapy for mild OSA and a second-line therapy for moderate to severe OSA.
To further help address sleep apnea symptoms, certain lifestyle changes have proven to be effective, including a healthier diet and exercise to encourage weight loss, sleeping on your side rather than your back, and quitting smoking. For mild sleep apnea cases, these lifestyle adjustments may be an excellent starting point for managing and/or reducing sleep apnea symptoms.
To learn more about sleep apnea treatment options, or to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists at Saco River Dentistry, please contact us today.