Oral Appliance Therapy to Treat Sleep Apnea


man-asleep-at-computer-300x200Sleep apnea is a serious health issue that appears to have an association with other conditions, such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack. Therefore, patients who have this condition should pursue effective treatments, such as oral appliance therapy, to reduce or eliminate the apnea episodes and enjoy a healthier life.

Patients with sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during the night. This is due to obstruction of the airway in the most common form – obstructive sleep apnea. In another type of sleep apnea, the nervous system fails to communicate properly with the muscles used for respiration and patients experience pauses in breathing as a result. Patients may also have a mixture of these two types.

In cases of obstructive sleep apnea, the main treatment objective is to prevent the soft tissue from covering up the airway. There are a number of strategies that can accomplish this goal.

Some patients may find that it’s sufficient to wear an oral appliance during sleep. The appliance may hold the tongue forward in the mouth or position the jaw in a way that makes airway obstruction unlikely.

The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) mask is a consistent, reliable treatment approach for sleep apnea. Air is forced into the airway to keep it open throughout the night. However, the mask can be cumbersome for many patients, who may subsequently decide not to comply with the treatment.

For patients who cannot tolerate a CPAP mask or those whose apnea does not respond to more conservative measures, an oral surgeon can perform certain interventions to address the problem. For example, surgery may target excess soft tissue at the back of the throat or reposition the jaw to move it forward.

Prior to getting treatment for sleep apnea, patients must get a confirmed diagnosis by completing a sleep study. Such a study will clarify the severity of the disorder and point toward a potential treatment plan. If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, such as loud snoring or daytime drowsiness, you should pursue a sleep study and then consult with our office about your treatment options after you get a diagnosis.

Contact us at Austin Oral Surgery today to schedule a consultation with one of our professionals.