Treatment for Sleep Apnea is provided by a dentist who has been specially trained. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is often undiagnosed. OSA is linked to many other health issues, including hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, heart problems, memory problems, and sudden nocturnal death. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an under-diagnosed debilitating condition that affects approximately 15% of adults in Canada.
OSA is the most common category of sleep-disordered breathing. OSA occurs when the muscle tone at the back of the throat relaxes during sleep which in turn, collapses the walls of the airway obstructing breathing during sleep. OSA is classified into three groups: mild, moderate and severe. All require treatment to prevent low blood oxygen levels (hypoxemia), sleep deprivation, and other complications. Individuals with low muscle tone and soft tissue around the airway and structural features that give rise to a narrowed airway and are at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea. The elderly are more likely to have OSA than young people. Men are more likely to suffer sleep apnea than women and children are, though it is not uncommon in the latter two population groups.
The risk of OSA rises with increasing body weight, active smoking and age. In addition, patients with diabetes or “borderline” diabetes have up to three times the risk of having OSA.
Common symptoms include loud snoring, restless sleep, and sleepiness during the daytime.
Some treatments involve lifestyle changes, such as avoiding alcohol or muscle relaxants, losing weight, and quitting smoking. Many people benefit from sleeping at a 30-degree elevation of the upper body or higher, as if in a recliner. Doing so, helps prevent the gravitational collapse of the airway. Experts recommend lateral positions (sleeping on a side), as opposed to supine positions (sleeping on the back), as a possible treatment for sleep apnea largely because of the gravitational component being smaller in the lateral position. Others seek treatment using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine.
Most people benefit from various kinds of oral appliances to keep the airway open during sleep. These appliances are similar to mouth guards worn on your top and bottom jaw held in place by your teeth. They are fast becoming the treatment of choice. An Oral appliance is a device that advances the mandible to prevent the soft tissues in the back of the throat from collapsing. These devices can be very effective in patients with mild to severe sleep apnea and is some success in patients with severe sleep apnea. Mostly effective, they represent a very good treatment option for people with sleep apnea.
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