Sleep Apnea is a sleep breathing disorder that is characterized by repetitive pauses in breathing during sleep.
Pauses in breathing occur several times per hour and can last for over 10 seconds. As the blood-oxygen levels decrease, the brain awakens the individual which often leads to a loud gasp or snort. Sleep apnea is associated with snoring, witnessed pauses in breathing, and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common type of Sleep Apnea. The airway becomes blocked or collapses during sleep, resulting in pauses in breathing, or very shallow breathing. The air that manages to squeeze through the blockage can create loud snoring. This is often seen in people who are overweight or obese. This can happen just a few times, or many times an hour. The result is that you rarely get to enjoy the deeper level of restful, recovery style sleep that your body needs to function at optimum capacity.
If Obstructive Sleep Apnea is not treated there can be serious consequences:
- Increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke and diabetes
- Irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias and an increase of the risk of heart failure
- A greater risk of driving or work-related accidents
There are broadly three levels of severity of obstructive sleep apnea – Mild, Moderate and Severe. Once a determination is made by a Sleep Study then appropriate treatment can be recommended. Mild, Moderate and some Severe sleep apnea can be treated with a custom made dental appliance. Approximately 60% of patients can be successfully treated with dental appliances. Dr. Gerber has been making dental appliances to treat obstructive sleep apnea for over 15 years. Now we have the technology to perform home sleep studies with the new MATRx plus system that is FDA approved.
There are two types of studies that can be utilized to indicate who would be an acceptable responder to treatment. The traditional Homes Sleep study produces data that is sent to the Sleep Center for interpretation by a Sleep M.D. If the result indicates the patient has obstructive sleep apnea then a Theragnostic Sleep Study is done on a second night to determine the best position of the lower jaw forward position to open the airway in a dynamic study. The Dynamic Study would confirm if that patient will respond to treatment with a dental appliance. A third night might be needed to validate the jaw position.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment please call Dr. Gerber at 310-652.0450.