Sleep Apnea Appliances

Reason for treating sleep apnea

It is very important to seek medical attention if sleep apnea is suspected.  A sufferer can completely stop breathing numerous times per hour, and this can quickly turn into a deadly situation.  Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue lying at the back of the patient’s throat collapses into the airway. The tongue then falls towards the back of the throat which tightens the blockage and prevents oxygen from entering the lungs.

The problem worsens when the chest region, diaphragm, and abdomen fight for air. The efforts they make to obtain vital oxygen only cause a further tightening of the blockage. The patient must arouse from deep sleep to tense the tongue and remove the soft tissue from the airway.

Because sleep apnea causes carbon dioxide levels to skyrocket in the blood and oxygen levels to decrease, the heart has to pump harder and faster to compensate for the lack of oxygen.  Consequences of untreated sleep apnea are diabetes, gastro-esophogeal reflux, bruxism, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, stroke, and death.

What does sleep apnea treatment involve?

Initially, Dr. Spring will refer you to a sleep physician for testing.  This consists of an interview and a sleep study test.  Once diagnosed, a coarse of action can be taken.   The sleep physician may advise the patient to halt some habits that aggravate sleep apnea such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and tranquilizer use.

Sleeping masks (CPAP machines) are traditionally used to keep the patient’s airway open while they slept. There is a high failure rate with CPAP machines.  We can offer an alternative to the CPAP machine.  It is a dental appliance that gently pulls the lower jaw forward which opens the main air passage.  There are a few different dental appliances available to treat sleep apnea.  These appliances work best for mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea.

If you think you may have sleep apnea, there is a simple questionaire to fill out.  Call the office and talk to Dr. Spring about it.


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