IS THERE A SLEEP APNEA STEREOTYPE?
What pops into your mind at the mention of sleep apnea (OSA)? Do you automatically think of the sleep apnea stereotype: A middle-aged, overweight man who wears a massive spaceman machine (CPAP) on his head and face at night to keep him from snoring at the decibel level of a herd of buffalo stampeding through the room…?
But sleep apnea doesn’t discriminate, and there truly is no stereotypical snorer. OSA can affect men and women of all ages and levels of fitness, even affecting children and professional athletes. On the same token, the CPAP machine, so often associated with OSA, is not the only form of sleep apnea treatment.
The problem with the stereotype is that it prevents people from getting diagnosed and treated, leaving them at risk for many additional health problems associated with Sleep Apnea like diabetes, stroke and even cancer. Up to 75% of the people who suffer from OSA remain undiagnosed and untreated. A broader awareness of who sleep apnea affects and how it can be treated is necessary to address and treat this sleep disorder that affects an estimated 12 million Americans.
SLEEP APNEA DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE
We can’t reiterate enough that there is no one type of person who is affected by Sleep Apnea. Although it does affect more men than women, and the risk of OSA goes up as weight and age increase, anyone can be affected by sleep apnea. Children and even infants can suffer from sleep breathing disorders . An estimated 2% of all women have a form of sleep apnea. Even professional athletes like Shaquille O’Neal have OSA. In our office we screen all of our patients for sleep apnea, regardless of age, gender, weight and health history. Screening all patients can help detect sleep issues and assist our patients in maintaining their overall health and wellness.
TREATING SLEEP APNEA WITHOUT THE MACHINE
Sleep Apnea treatment is usually associated with the CPAP machine, a mask worn over the face and head to help patients get necessary amounts of oxygen, stop snoring and sleep through the night. However, that is not the only treatment option. Other options include oral appliances and, in some cases, surgery. These alternatives are often sought by patients who cannot tolerate the CPAP or who have not achieved acceptable results with the apparatus. Recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for mild to moderate sleep apnea, we provide our patients with custom made dental appliances, which position the jaw forward and down to hold the airway open and allow patients to breathe and sleep soundly through the night.
BENEFITS OF DENTAL DEVICES
(list from the New York Times Guide to Dental Devices for Sleep Apnea)
- Significant reduction in apneas for those with mild-to-moderate apnea, particularly if patients sleep either on their backs or stomachs. The devices also improve airflow for some patients with severe apnea and are excellent when used in conjunction with CPAP to allow lower airflow through the mask resulting in greater comfort and compliance.
- Improvement in sleep in many patients.
- Reduction in the frequency and loudness of snoring in most patients.
- Higher compliance rates than with CPAP alone.
- Dental devices have shown better long-term control of sleep apnea when compared to uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), a common surgical treatment.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Dr. Nadler screens all patients for Obstructive Sleep Apnea and recommends a sleep study to diagnose any possible cases. He makes custom dental appliances to treat sleep apnea, helping his patients sleep comfortably through the night, stop snoring and reduce the health risks related to sleep apnea. If you have any questions about OSA or how dental sleep appliances can help in relieving symptoms and treating OSA, don’t hesitate to call our office at 908-359-6655.