Get Help with Sleep Apnea from Denver Dentistry in Littleton, CO
If you need help with sleep apnea, you might think you need to work closely with your family doctor and wear a CPAP machine. Your Denver dentist could also be an asset, depending on the severity of your sleep apnea. Littleton dentist Dr. Guy Grabiak may be able to help you stop snoring, get a better night’s sleep, and could potentially do this with an alternative to a CPAP machine. A restful night’s sleep could have a positive impact on every facet of your life!
Sleep Apnea is a condition where the air passage from the mouth to the lungs is blocked due to the collapse of soft tissue at the back of throat during sleep. The muscles in the throat (including the tongue, which is a very large muscle) relax during the night and, in particular, if you sleep on your back, they can relax so much that they cut off your air.
The word “apnea” is of Greek origin and means “without breath.” Literally, the person has his or her breath cut off, sometimes hundreds of times each night, and they may not even be aware of the condition. They only know that they are constantly tired from unknowingly waking up during the night. Or, their nighttime partner may inform them that they snore excessively, which is major symptom of obstructive sleep apnea.
Early recognition and treatment of sleep apnea is important because it may be associated with irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Risk factors include being overweight, male, over the age of 40, and having a neck circumference greater than 17 inches. Learn more about our Sleep Apnea Denver treatment options from Denver dentistry’s, Dr. Guy Grabiak below.
“My quality of life is ten times what it was a month ago when I first walked through the doors. I went from having nothing to look forward to everyday, to when I walked out of here a week ago I was bouncing to my car.” – Becky Franks Van Hout
All treatments for sleep apnea in Denver or anywhere else involve some sort of equipment or procedure to open up the air passages at night.
Surgery – Early on, a tracheotomy was used to create a hole in the throat through which air could bypass any soft tissue obstruction. During the day, the hole was plugged and during the night, opened up to allow the passage of air. Obviously, this was a fairly radical solution if, considering nothing else, the potential for infection of an open hole in your throat.
After tracheotomies, surgical treatment for sleep apnea most often involves the removal of excess soft tissue in the throat which is the culprit in causing the problem. This may include shortening the uvula (the small, droopy thing at the back of your throat) and removing the tonsils and adenoids. However, the surgery does not necessarily guarantee that your sleep apnea will be reduced or eliminated. Beyond this treatment, a relatively new procedure called Somnoplasty was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998 which involves multiple treatments to shrink the tongue and palate. Even newer than Somnoplasty is a procedure called tongue suspension where a screw is inserted in the jaw below the tongue and the tongue is stitched up to prevent it from collapsing.
The most prevalent treatment for sleep apnea treatment in Denver and elsewhere has been the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. This machine is a small air compressor which delivers a mild stream of air into a person’s airway in order to keep the soft tissue from collapsing and causing the sleeper to awake momentarily, gasping for air. The air pressure is delivered via a hose with some type of attachment that is connected to the nose or mouth. Very often, the attachment can be something on the order of a pilot’s air mask â€“ covering and sealing the nose/mouth so that positive air pressure can be maintained.
The CPAP machine works quite well when sleep apnea patients can get used to it. Unfortunately, many people hate their CPAP. The main drawback is that getting used to it may be difficult. It can be uncomfortable. Or, even if it is not that uncomfortable, it is too strange for someone who has spent their entire life not wearing something on their face at night. It has to be carefully adjusted to ensure that the seal remains tight, particularly for those people who turn into different sleeping positions. And, of course, trips to the bathroom at night involve disconnecting the hose from the CPAP machine or removing and refitting the mask. Consultation with a physician who specializes in sleep apnea and, perhaps, testing at a sleep lab, is the best way to diagnose this condition. Alternatively, some Denver and Littleton dentists and physicians may have you take home a nighttime monitor, and then send the results to a sleep specialist for evaluation.
Another option which is becoming more popular includes oral appliances that can be worn at night and designed to keep the airway open. These work in three different ways. First, the appliance can be designed to push the lower jaw forward (mandibular manipulation). Second, the device can be designed to prevent the tongue from falling back during sleep and blocking the airway. Third, the device may be designed to do both mandibular manipulation and tightening of the soft tissue and preventing it from collapsing in the back of the throat. These devices are most successful with people who have mild to moderate sleep apnea. Consultation with a Denver dentist who offers oral appliance fittings is the best way to gain insight as to whether sleep apnea can be eliminated or substantially reduced with an oral appliance. Dr. Grabiak DMD, FAGD has years of experience in in oral appliance therapy and is currently utilizing the Somndent MAS. The SomnoDent® MAS fits over the upper and lower teeth, much like a sports mouthguard.
However unlike a sports mouthguard it is a discreet, precision-made and clinically-tested FDA approved device. It is easy and comfortable to wear. Because is it made of two separate pieces the patient is able to talk, yawn and drink water. SomnoDent® MAS is a highly effective treatment method for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) with patients often having higher compliance rates than CPAP. Studies show that over 90% patients with OSA stated that they will continue using Somnodent MAS. Often considered the gold standard of oral appliance therapy the SomnoDent®MAS may be the answer for the majority of patients suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Its levels of patient acceptance and compliance as well as treatment efficacy are backed by a large body of clinical research.
91% of patients reported substantial improvement in sleep quality with the SomnoDent, which is available from Denver Dentistry in Littleton, CO.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends the use of oral devices such as the SomnoDent® MAS for mild-to-moderate OSA (AHI < 25), or for patients with severe OSA who are unable to tolerate their CPAP.
“Sleep disordered breathing in its various manifestations is arguably the number one health problem in the U.S., and probably in the world” – William C. Dement, the father of sleep medicine
The most annoying symptom of sleep apnea doesn’t necessarily affect the person with the condition. More often, snoring is a common symptom, and ends up interrupting the sleep of the bed partner. Thus, to one degree or another, both people are frequently having their sleep interrupted. Beyond snoring, the sleep apnea suffer is subject to frequent nighttime cycles of suffocation, awakening and falling back to sleep. This cyclic pattern can interrupt REM (deep) sleep, thought to be a key to psychological health and rest. Beyond that, the cycle itself is insidious and results in insufficient sleep and consequential sleepiness during the day. Overwhelming daytime fatigue contributes to the risk of injury and accident from decreased attention span, judgment and reflex. The risk of automobile accident in the untreated sleep apnea patient is about 8 times that of a rested individual. Work productivity and safety can suffer. Other consequences of untreated sleep apnea include loss of libido, impotency, depression, diabetes, cerebrovascular disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, memory problems, GERD, nocturnal bruxism, weight gain and headaches. 17% of adults suffer with OSA and 23 times more likely to have a heart attack.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a medical disease. Sleep testing and oral appliance therapy are covered by most medical insurances and not covered by dental insurance. For a stress-free experience, our office will bill your health insurance directly. Most of our patients are being reimbursed anywhere from 50-80% of the cost of the appliance therapy.
Feel free to make an appointment with Dr. Grabiak to talk about sleep apnea treatment options available to you from Denver Dentistry in Littleton, Colorado.