What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that creates excessive snoring and upper airway resistance. Sleep Apnea is essentially due to collapse of the airway (total or partial) during sleep and can be severe enough to induce frequent sleep state changes. These sleep state changes can deprive the individual of adequate deep sleep and induce daytime sleepiness.
What causes us to snore and is it dangerous?
Snoring occurs because the air does not flow smoothly through the air passages. It also occurs when the soft tissues or muscles in your air passages vibrate. As you fall into a deep sleep, the muscles in your tongue, throat and roof of your mouth (soft palate) relax.
At this point the throat tissues begin to sag. As you breathe, the sagging tissues narrow your airway and vibrate or flutter, creating the sound of snoring. The narrower your airway becomes, the greater the vibration...and the louder your snoring.
Snoring affects 45 percent of the population from time to time and an estimated 25 percent of people are habitual snorers. There are a number of reasons why you may snore. Snoring and sleep apnea often go hand-in-hand.
Why should I be concerned?
Sleep Apnea is associated with increased mortality. The research indicates the risk is for individuals with moderate to severe sleep apnea and other pulmonary or cardiac disorders (asthma, emphysema, angina, etc.). In a routine patient, however, the main reason treatment is sought is because sleep apnea has a major impact on lifestyle due to the daytime sleepiness it causes.
What dental procedures can be used to treating sleep apnea and snoring?
The principal non-dental treatment for these disorders is a nasal mask. For the moderate to severe apnea sufferer, this treatment is very effective but often is not used by patients because it is inconvient to attach the mask each night and sleep with it in place. Surgical solutions which involve the throat only, have a significant failure rate. In recent years for the mild to moderate sleep apnea patient, several good studies have shown the dental devices which advance the mandible as a very successful device to treat sleep apnea. These devices are usually two full arch acrylic devices which cover all of the mandibular and maxillary teeth and are then attached together in such a way as to hold the jaw in a forward position. The advantages of the mandibular positioner is that it maintains a continuous, forward tongue position throughout the night and is designed so oral breathing is still possible if the nasal passage is blocked.
Cosmetic Dentistry is a specialized field that requires extensive knowledge and experience to be done correctly. The Medical Center Dental Group in Houston, Texas brings all of that and more to the direct benefit of each and every patient we treat. Although we are located in the world famous Houston Medical Center at Scurlock Towers, we routinely see dental patients who travel from Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Beaumont and Midland Texas to see Dr. Dale Brant, Dr. Charles Campbell or Dr. Elizabeth OSullivan-Winslow for their cosmetic denistry services.