One of the most misunderstood disease entities affecting our population today stems from the time in our life that should be most peaceful: during our sleep. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) affects millions of Americans, most of which go undiagnosed and are at risk every night for stroke, heart attack, and various other life-altering secondary diseases. Simply put, OSA is a condition where the airway is blocked by soft tissue during the sleeping hours, resulting in a lack of oxygen to the body. The long-term effects to the body are devastating.
Many people know of a friend, family member, or even a celebrity that suddenly passed from a massive heart attack in their sleep, when they should be most relaxed. These victims struggled to breathe all night, every night until it became overwhelming for their systems, and their heart could no longer function effectively.
The scenario described above is made more unfortunate by the fact that it could have easily been prevented by simply treating the Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Commonly associated with snoring, OSA slowly leads to secondary diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, and it can eventually lead to serious conditions like heart disease and stroke. Treatment begins with diagnostic sleep study procedures, many of which are easily completed in the comfort of your own bed. Once diagnosed, the patient may choose to sleep with one of various treatment modalities to allow oxygen to reach its vital organs in the sleeping hours.
At Designing Smiles PSC, we offer several sleep apnea treatments in Sellersburg, Indiana, including:
CPAP/ BiPAP- a forced air system that literally pushes air into the lungs while the patient sleeps. CPAP and BiPAP machines are very effective, and they are becoming more and more acceptable and tolerable to patients. This is the most common treatment among the various options.
Oral Appliance Therapy- a custom-fabricated oral appliance that acts to position the jaw forward and draw the tongue out of the airway, thus allowing air to pass. This treatment option (MAD-Mandibular Advancement Device) is often recommended for patients with Mild to Moderate OSA. It has grown in popularity in recent years, due to its ease of use and more social acceptance. It is also very easy to travel with, as opposed to the bulky CPAP device.
Surgical Options- surgical alterations of the soft palate or pharynx and uvula have all been used to enhance the airway in OSA patients. Research indicates that the outcomes of these procedures are very inconsistent, and the actual treatment is not always acceptable from a patient comfort point of view.
ALL of the options can and should involve Sleep Hygiene modifications.
If you or a loved one have experienced heavy snoring or breathing interruptions while sleeping, it is imperative to seek a medical diagnosis and treatment, as untreated OSA can negatively alter one’s life over time. Here at Designing Smiles PSC, our dentist and team are constantly checking our patients for the signs and symptoms of OSA. Contact us today at 812-246-3386 if you have questions regarding OSA, or if you would like to receive your OSA examination from our dentist.