At www.thegentledentist.com we are always interested in providing the most up to date care for our patients. One of the most beneficial services we provide is the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea for our patients who stop breathing at night.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where one will encounter periodic episodes of losing their breath during sleep. The airway can be restricted when there is too much soft tissue in the space and the patient will struggle at times to breathe, eventually taking a gasp of air after laboring to get in a breath for over 10 seconds. Common risk factors are:
- high BMI (body mass index). Obesity is rampant in Americans due to a lack of exercise, fast foods and other factors
- small size of the lower jaw- if the lower jaw is too small then the soft tissue is packed into a small space which can prevent adequate air from moving down the trachae. In a larger lower jaw the tissue moves with the jaw and therefore space isn’t such a problem.
- The chronic use of alcohol can relax muscles of the neck to the point where they collapse into closing the air space.
The gold standard in obstructive sleep apnea is the cpap machine. This machine provides positive pressure forcing air down the trachea and into the lungs during the night . The problem is that this is not very comfortable and is not well tolerated by the patient or the spouse. The machine makes a rumbling noise which is from the compressor. It is important to remain sleeping on the back with such a device because the mask needs space and if one rolled onto the stomach the mask would press against the face.
The oral appliance moves the jaw forward to open up the space. Because the soft tissue is attached to the lower jaw, when it is positioned forward all of the tissue comes with it.
The oral appliance can be adjusted to move the jaw forward but there are limitations on how far. As the jaw moves forward it displaces the TMJ (tempro mandibular joint), the joint in which the jaw hinges on. As the joint is moved there are some clicking and potential joint problems that can be be experienced and this is why your dentist needs to be aware of the workings of the bite and jaw joint.
On Frank, this treatment has been very successful and compared with a cheap over the counter device it is a worth while investment (financially and health wise).
For more information please call Dr. Antolak, The Gentle Dentist at (586)247-3500 or email at DrAntolak@TheGentleDentist.com