Treatment may be as simple as:
- Losing excessive weight which reduces the soft tissue obstruction to the airway.
- Getting regular exercise.
- Within three hours of bedtime, avoiding alcohol, heavy meals and medication that make you drowsy.
When the symptoms and the Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is more severe other treatment options may include:
Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy – an air compression device and a nose mask are used to force the airway open to aid breathing during sleep. This device appears and sounds similar to a small vacuum sweeper which blows air rather than sucking it. This treatment is often successful, but compliance is notoriously low due to the cumbersome nature of its application.
Surgery may be used to correct the physical abnormalities which cause the OSA, but sometimes the negative consequences and irreversibility of the procedure may be devastating to the patient.
Dental Appliance Therapy is an alternative treatment for patients with mild or moderate OSA and for snoring patients without active OSA. The dental appliance is an acrylic or plastic device and looks similar to a double orthodontic retainer or athletic mouthpiece. The goal of the appliance is to prevent the tongue and other soft throat-tissues from collapsing and obstructing the airway during sleep. Dentists with special, extensive education and training in dental appliance therapy can design and then fit these special appliances to meet each OSA/snoring patient’s individual need and condition. Compliance with these intraoral devices is high and, in the event of failure, the treatment is “reversible”, since the appliance may be removed.
Computerized diagnostics make it possible to accurately find a physiologic position that meets the parameters of each individual patient.
Computerized jaw tracking instrumentation is used to record jaw movements, range of motion, path of closure, protrusive guidance, rest positions, habitual centric occlusion, and determine freeway space.
Electromyography is used to monitor the muscles in function.
Myo-monitor (low frequency TENS) is used to relax the hyperactive facial muscles.
Patients with Snoring or Sleep Disorders, including OSA, need the following medical/dental procedures to obtain the most appropriate treatment for their specific problem:
A complete Dental examination to determine if the patient qualifies for an intraoral appliance.
An upper respiratory airway examination by an ENT (ear, nose & throat specialist), to rule out organic disorders, such as tumor or polyps causing the airway obstruction.
A Sleep Study usually in a Sleep Clinic, to determine if the Obstructive Sleep Apnea is Mild, Moderate or Severe. This helps to ascertain the most appropriate treatment for the patient.
The dotted circle shows the tongue against the back of the throat allowing the air to vibrate and cause snoring a if severe enough, result in Obstructive Sleep Apnea.-See Fig2-A
Dotted area shows airway open with dental appliance in place bringing the jaw forward thus solving the problem of OSA.-See Fig3-A