What is oral appliance therapy and can my dentist really save my life?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep related breathing disorder that involves a decrease or complete stop in airflow despite an ongoing effort to breath. It occurs when the muscles relax during sleep, causing soft tissues at the back of the throat to collapse and block the upper airway.
Well let's think about it, air flow stop, that sounds like suffocation. For people with OSA this can happen a few times an hour to 40, 50, 60, or more times an hour while you sleep and it can be pretty serious.
If left untreated will have impact on your cardiovascular system, increase chance of motor vehicle accidents, psychiatric and behavioral issues, quality of life and productivity issues, endocrine and and neurocognitive issues.
A cpap (continuous positive airway pressure) machine can treat this but this machine is strapped onto you and the compliance is not great, perhaps around 50%. If you can wear this machine then your success is close to 100%. If you can't get used to wearing this then you need to find another solution.
This brings us to the dentist, your dentist can fabricate an appliance (mandibular advancement device) for you that stops your tongue and jaw from falling backwards as you sleep and opens your airway to help you breath. Many people can tolerate this much better and it again lets you breath while you sleep and perhaps saves your life.
Any questions you have don't hesitate to leave a reply on the blog.
Regards and all the best
Dr. Ron Barzilay
Hamilton Ontario Canada