Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Oral Appliance Treatments in Fort Mill

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that continues to be underdiagnosed in many people. It is a serious disorder causing interrupted sleep when your breathing is temporarily obstructed or halted.

If you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing throughout the night for brief seconds, disrupting your sleep patterns and preventing you from getting enough restful sleep.

Want to find out if you should be evaluated for sleep apnea? Take the Epworth Sleepiness Scale quiz and find out!

The Three Kinds of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep and reduces oxygen to your vital organs. This is the most common form of apnea, occurring when the upper airway is partially or entirely blocked when you sleep.

If you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea, your partner probably hears you briefly stop breathing during the night, then start again with a gasp. This can happen dozens or even hundreds of times a night. In some patients, heart rhythm problems develop.

Obstructive sleep apnea is often treated effectively with oral appliances that keep your airway open when you are asleep. At Monarch Dentistry, we offer viable options for treating obstructive sleep apnea, including oral appliances.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea results from the brain’s failure to signal specific muscles to breathe while you are asleep. This is caused by a central nervous system issue rather than a blocked airway. Oral appliances do not help if you have central sleep apnea.

Mixed Sleep Apnea

Mixed apnea combines obstructive and central sleep apnea and can be challenging to treat effectively. It is rare compared to obstructive sleep apnea.

Are You Suffering From Sleep Apnea?

Contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mercado to discuss your oral appliance options.

Call us: 803-547-7779

Signs and Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Many people with obstructive sleep apnea do not realize they have it until their sleeping partner or family members point out that their snoring is disruptively loud or that they frequently stop breathing during the night. Common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) include:

  • Excessive snoring
  • Fatigue or exhaustion even after sleeping through the night
  • Restless sleep/tossing and turning
  • Waking with the feeling you are choking
  • A sore throat or dry mouth when you wake
  • Irritability, difficulty concentrating (brain fog)
  • Headaches on waking
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Night sweats

Children may also have obstructive sleep apnea. While some symptoms are similar to those in adults, others may not initially be recognized as symptoms of sleep apnea, including:

  • Poor grades
  • Sluggishness or falling asleep at school
  • Night sweating
  • Learning disorders
  • Behavioral disorders
  • Mouth breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sleep in strange positions (such as on the hands and knees or with the neck bent at an angle)
  • Bedwetting

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

The term obstructive sleep apnea refers to the obstruction of your airway while sleeping. It is usually caused by tissue in the back of the mouth collapsing, temporarily blocking the throat. In some people, the position they sleep in may cause the tongue to fall back toward the throat and block the airway.

OSA is more common in patients who are severely overweight. Still, anyone can develop sleep apnea at any point in their lives.

Effects of Untreated OSA

Without treatment, obstructive sleep apnea contributes to more serious medical issues, including high blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, enlargement of the heart muscles, stroke, congestive heart failure, heart attacks, and diabetes.

Sleep apnea can also impact job performance and personal relationships when left untreated. Due to daytime drowsiness, you are more prone to academic problems, motor vehicle accidents, and memory impairment.

Oral Appliance Therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

There are many options for treating obstructive sleep apnea, including CPAP machines, oral appliances, and, in severe cases, surgery. At Monarch Dentistry of Gold Hill, we provide patients with custom-crafted oral appliances that offer impressive results without the inconvenience of a CPAP machine.

If you have mild to moderate OSA, oral appliances prevent the tongue or soft tissues from blocking the airway. Mandibular advancement devices can also be effective by advancing the lower jaw. We work with your physician or sleep specialist to develop an oral appliance designed specifically for you.

Benefits of Oral Appliances

Many patients prefer an oral appliance over a CPAP machine because it is more comfortable and easier to use even when traveling. Among the advantages of an oral appliance are:

  • Improves symptoms such as daytime sleepiness and concentration issues
  • Reduces or eliminates snoring
  • Comfortable and portable
  • Silent and discreet
  • No need for electricity

Risks with Oral Appliance Therapy

As with any therapy, there are some risks involved with using an oral appliance to treat obstructive sleep apnea, including:

Oral Appliances vs. CPAP

Although CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy is often used to treat sleep apnea, it has serious drawbacks that make it intolerable for some patients. They cannot sleep comfortably or feel claustrophobic wearing their headgear and mask.

Many people also struggle with keeping a CPAP machine clean, a time-consuming process that needs to be done daily or weekly. Oral appliance therapy is an excellent alternative to CPAP that is easier to use and improves your sleep without the downside of a CPAP machine.

How to Find Out if You Have Obstructive Sleep Apnea

At Monarch Dentistry of Gold Hill, we screen for signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea at every patient visit. Whether you are coming in for a routine exam and cleaning or getting cosmetic dental work, our goal is to understand and treat every aspect of your oral health.

We do a complete visual check for tell-tale signs you may have OSA and ask questions about your sleep habits and quality. If we believe you may have obstructive sleep apnea, we recommend seeing a sleep specialist or discussing any concerns with your physician.

Home Sleep Test

An overnight sleep test is one of the most efficient and accurate ways to determine whether you have sleep apnea. In the past, patients have had to stay overnight at a sleep testing center for a sleep test. The results were not always accurate. Patients were in a strange bed in unfamiliar surroundings, making it difficult to reproduce normal nighttime sleeping patterns.

To address the problem of accurate results, Monarch Dentistry of Gold Hill offers the Alice NightOne home sleep testing (HST) device to our patients. This simple device is worn at night while sleeping in your own home under your typical sleeping conditions. This ensures accurate results based on your normal bedtime routine, so patients do not have to stay overnight in a sleep lab.

The Alice NightOne sleep monitor is an easy-to-wear device that monitors multiple indicators of sleep apnea, including respiration, body position, oxygen levels, snoring, and more. This information is sent to a sleep medicine physician who interprets the data and provides us with their findings and diagnoses.

How Monarch Dentistry of Gold Hill Helps You Overcome OSA

If you are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, we review your home sleep test results with you. We will propose appropriate treatment options, including oral appliances, which can relieve your symptoms and improve the quality of your sleep.

If it is determined that oral appliance therapy would be effective in reducing or eliminating your sleep apnea, we design a custom oral appliance in conjunction with any needed restorative dental procedures to achieve maximum results. Our goal is to balance opening the airway while maintaining or improving joint, muscle, and teeth function and alignment.

If you are interested in a convenient and effective alternative to CPAP, talk to your doctor or sleep specialist about oral appliances. At Monarch Dentistry of Gold Hill, we have helped many of our patients find relief from obstructive sleep apnea and get a healthy, good night’s sleep.

For more information, please contact our office at Fort Mill Office Phone Number 803-547-7779. We will gladly answer your questions or schedule an appointment for you to discuss your oral appliance options with Dr. Mercado.