Untreated sleep apnea can lead to dangerous daytime sleepiness, not to mention high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Although there is an effective treatment called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), nearly half of patients find the CPAP mask uncomfortable.
Adherence is equally high in patients treated with dental devices placed at bedtime, but the evidence that these devices, such as mouthguards, are successful and how they work remains unclear. Today, new research from Australia shows that they are effective in treating even severe obstructive sleep apnea.
Improved Symptoms, Sleep Patterns
Obstructive sleep apnea is the result of an airway obstruction that is usually caused by the collapse of soft tissue in the back of the neck during sleep. Risk factors include masculinity, being overweight, and being over 40.
People with this condition may stop breathing hundreds of times each night, and breathing may be interrupted for a minute or more. The most common symptoms are severe snoring and daytime sleepiness.
CPAP works by forcing air into the nose through a dry mask or nasal puncture to keep the airway open. The most effective dental appliances work by pushing the lower jaw forward to open the airway behind the tongue. Most of these are performed by dentists on a regular basis and adjusted from time to time to find the most comfortable and effective position for the individual patient.
The most recent Australian study involved 10 obstructive sleep apnea patients who were closely monitored for a week while wearing their own devices. The average number of obstructive events in patients decreased from 25 per night without braces to less than five with them.
Dr. Montz, Dr. Maher, or Dr. Dunwody at Houston Sleep Solutions South will be able to help you determine if sleep apnea treatment is right for you. Contact us now.
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