People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have disrupted sleep and low blood oxygen levels. When obstructive sleep apnea occurs, the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and airflow stops. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears, and the flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp.
Repeated cycles of decreased oxygenation lead to very serious cardiovascular problems. Additionally, these individuals suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, and loss of concentration.
Some patients have obstructions that are less severe called Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS). In either case, the individuals suffer many of the same symptoms.
The first step in treatment resides in recognition of the symptoms and seeking appropriate consultation. Dr. Maher will offer consultation and treatment options.
In addition to a detailed history, Dr. Maher will assess the anatomic relationships in the maxillofacial region. To confirm the amount of cardiovascular compromise and decreased oxygenation levels, a sleep study may be recommended to monitor an individual overnight.
There are several treatment options available. An initial treatment recommended by your physician may consist of using a nasal CPAP machine that delivers pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask to limit obstruction at night. A second option for mild to moderate sleep apnea may be an oral appliance called SomnoDent.
A SomnoDent is a custom-made oral appliance that is worn during sleep to help provide Continuous Open Airway Therapy (COAT) by moving the lower jaw slightly forward. This appliance is made for patients that have already been diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea and are unable to tolerate a CPAP machine.
OSA is a very serious condition that needs careful attention and treatment. Most major medical plans offer coverage for diagnosis and treatment.