If a physician determines you suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the medical and dental treatments available include:
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
- Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT).
1) Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is the gold standard treatment for moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea. With a CPAP, pressurized air is generated from a bedside machine. This air is then delivered through a tube connected to a mask that covers the patient’s mouth, nose or both. The CPAP opens the airway with pressurized air, allowing the patient to breathe freely.
To see how a CPAP works, click hereto view a video created by the Mayo Clinic.
2) Surgical Procedures
Surgery can increase the size of your airway, thus reducing episodes of OSA. A surgeon may remove tonsils, adenoids or excess tissue at the back of the throat or inside the nose. A surgeon may also suggest the reconstruction of the jaw to enlarge the upper airway.
To read more about surgical options, click here to read a brochure (in PDF) created by The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.
3) Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT)
Oral Appliance Therapy effectively treats snoring, mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea and is the best option for severe OSA patients who cannot tolerate CPAP. A physician may suggest OAT based on the severity of the condition and/or with consideration of claustrophobia, airway infections, allergies or other concerns. Oral Appliance Therapy involves the selection, design and adjustment of an oral appliance by a trained dentist. The appliance is then worn by the patient while asleep in order to maintain an opened, unobstructed airway in the throat. Oral appliances may be used alone or in combination with other means of treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
To read more about Oral Appliance Therapy, click hereto read a PDF brochure created by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.
Lifestyle changes can also prove to be effective in decreasing the severity of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Some examples include:
- Losing Weight – Extra weight puts pressure on you airways and decreases airflow
- Quitting Smoking – Smoking increases inflammation and fluid retention in your airway
- Avoiding Alcohol & Sleeping Pills – Alcohol and sedatives relax the muscles in the throat and can interfere with breathing
- Avoiding Caffeine & Heavy Meals – Both should be avoided within two hours of going to bed
- Maintaining Regular Sleeping Hours – A steady schedule will help you relax and sleep better
- Sleeping On Your Side – By sleeping on your back, gravity makes it more likely for your tongue and soft tissues to obstruct your airway. You can try sewing a tennis ball into the back of your pajama top to prevent yourself from rolling on your back.