Sleep Apnea is one of the most undiagnosed and untreated of the serious illnesses we face today. Besides the fact that many accidents occurring in the workplace and on our highways can be attributed to tired, sleep-deprived people, sleep apnea raises the death risk of individuals with it 46%. Football great Reggie White’s death in 2004, has been attributed to sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea causes snoring and sleep disruption which looks like choking or suffocation, because that is what it is. It occurs when the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat collapse to block the airway during sleep. This happens to an estimated 18 million individuals or 1 in 8 Americans. Individuals suffering with OSA typically are thought of as older overweight men, but this disease affects young and old, men and women, and those who are physically fit as well as overweight. In fact, individuals who think they “just snore”, may indeed suffer with sleep apnea and if they do not now, are highly likely to develop it at some point in their life.
You might wonder how we, as dental professionals, can help. Guidelines established in 2006, by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommend oral appliances as a first-line treatment for snoring and mild to moderate OSA. This is fantastic news as it allows for treatment options that enable patients to avoid the risks associated with surgery and the discomfort that can accompany other treatment methods.
In our practice, we look at our patients as an entire human being and have great concern for their overall health. As a result, we will screen our patients for this serious disorder. If a need arises, we will be able to guide patients toward the receiving the proper diagnosis. This is made using a sleep study or polysomnogram that is interpreted by a board certified sleep medicine physician. This study can be conducted at a sleep study center or at your home using the Embletta X100. The Embletta X100 is one of the only devices that meets the guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and CMS (Medicare) for home sleep study. If it is recommended that an oral appliance is the right mode of treatment for a patient, we will be able to fabricate the exact one suited to your needs and confirm its position using specialized equipment.
It is important to have a proper diagnosis when it comes to treating sleep apnea and it is equally important that any oral appliance used is fabricated by a licensed dentist who is trained in sleep medicine. Dr Nelson is fully trained and qualified to fulfill the requirements of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s criteria for oral appliance therapy.
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