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Treating Sleep Apnea in Lutz, Wesley Chapel, & Land O'Lakes

man snoringSleep apnea is a condition that causes patients to stop breathing for ten or more seconds at a time during sleep. These apnea incidences may occur hundreds of times through the night. Sleep apnea may be caused when the brain fails to signal the body to inhale and exhale: central sleep apnea (CSA); or by blockage in the throat preventing oxygen from traveling through the airway: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Some patients may even experience a combination of the two causes of sleep apnea. Unfortunately, the warning signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are so varied that the majority of people who suffer from any form of sleep apnea (about 80%) are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years before receiving treatment.

Some of the common side effects of sleep apnea include:

Sleep Apnea Can Be Successfully Treated

The first step in restoring restful sleep for those patients with sleep apnea is determining decisively that they are suffering from CSA or OSA. At Nelson Dentistry & Dental Sleep Medicine, we offer patients assistance with diagnosing their condition. We start by asking patients to complete the STOP-BANG assessment. If this brief yes or no questionnaire indicates that patients are at risk, we will recommend a more advanced sleep study. Once we know the severity and cause of patients’ sleep apnea, treatment planning begins.

For those patients with obstructive sleep apnea, we may be able to use comfortable oral appliance therapy to treat sleep apnea. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has stated that the first treatment solutions for snoring and mild to moderate OSA can be an oral appliance. For those patients with severe OSA or CSA, CPAP therapy or combined oral appliance and CPAP therapy may be a better first choice.

Did You Know?

  1. As long as adults consistently receive 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, they should not feel fatigued during the day.
  2. Patients with sleep apnea are more likely to become obese, be unable to lose weight, and struggle to keep weight off once it’s lost.
  3. Alcoholism, drug addiction, and Alzheimer’s affect memory in the same way that sleep apnea and sleep deprivation do.
  4. Many patients who believe they are suffering from insomnia are actually awakened periodically due to breathing interruptions related to sleep apnea.
  5. If you snore regularly but are not diagnosed as suffering from sleep apnea, you are still at a higher risk of developing this sleep disorder. By treating snoring using oral appliance therapy, patients are able to avoid future health risks associated with sleep apnea including cardiac disease, stroke, acid reflux, and cognitive disorders.
  6. Exhaustion and excessive sleepiness caused by lack of regenerative sleep increases the risk for motor vehicle accidents more than 15 times. Tired people tested against inebriated people in a closed course driving test were more likely to have an accident.
  7. Recent estimates show that 80% of patients suffering from sleep apnea are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, and an even greater percentage are untreated.
  8. When sleep apnea is left untreated, the average life expectancy is significantly reduced. Most untreated sleep apneic patients do not life past 55 years of age.
  9. Sleep apnea is one of the most common cause of sexual or erectile dysfunctions.
  10. Frequent trips to the bathroom at night may actually be indicative of undiagnosed sleep apnea.
  11. Teeth grinding is commonly an indicator of sleep apnea.
  12. The size of patients’ necks or tongue may put them at greater risk for developing sleep apnea.

Snoring Isn't Just an Annoyance

Snoring is often the first indication that patients may be developing sleep apnea. Snoring and other vocalizations like speech, laughter, and singing all occur due to the vibration of air against the throat, mouth, and tongue. A minor obstruction of the airway may not prevent patients from breathing through the night, but it will lead to increased difficulty inhaling and exhaling during sleep. Over time, the obstruction that leads to snoring may become more severe causing patients to struggle when inhaling and exhaling eventually developing into sleep apnea.

For those patients who do not suffer from sleep apnea but who do snore loudly and consistently, oral appliance therapy may still be recommended to prevent sleep apnea and the associated health concerns like elevated blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and negative cognitive and physical effects of sleep deprivation.

Our Alternative to CPAP

CPAP has long been considered the gold standard of treatment for sleep apnea, and in advanced cases and for those patients with central sleep apnea, CPAP therapy or surgical correction may be the ideal treatment. Unfortunately, many patients are diagnosed as being CPAP intolerant. The CPAP systems use a face mask covering the mouth and/or nose that forces air into the throat and lungs. These systems can be loud and many people are unable to get used to the noises and sensations associated with CPAP treatment. For those patients who suffer from loud snoring, mild sleep apnea, and those who are CPAP intolerant, Dr. Jay A. Nelson and his team offer an alternative – oral appliance therapy. We can custom fit patients for a number of different oral appliances that adjust the position of the jaw during sleep in order to keep patients’ airways open. These appliances are comfortable to wear, easy to remove and clean, compact for easy storage and transportation during travel, and often dramatically increase patients’ treatment compliance.

Is it Covered by Insurance?

Typically, we are able to use a patient’s medical insurance to cover oral appliance therapy. In recent years, some dental insurance providers have started to include oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea as well. Our knowledgeable team will work with you and your insurance providers to maximize coverage. We’re happy to process and file claims for most major insurance providers and Medicare. We encourage patients from New Tampa and all of Pasco County to contact our Lutz, FL office to find out more or schedule a consultation today.