As the most common sleep-related breathing disorder in the United States, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects over 1 in 4 American adults (26%) between the ages of 30-70. If you’re one of them, you may already know that treating OSA isn’t just about putting an end to chronic snoring and frequent awakenings — it’s also about protecting your health.
From three locations in Allen, McKinney, and Plano, Texas, our skilled team of board-certified pulmonologists at Fivestar Pulmonary Associates offers a complete scope of treatment options for sleep apnea, including custom oral devices.
Here, Dr. Anthony Nebor, Dr. Asif Najmuddin, and Dr. Deepthi Gandhiraj take a closer look at OSA and its health effects, discuss the importance of treatment, and explain how oral devices address the problem.
Sleep apnea causes repeated respiratory interruptions as you sleep. Each time your brain recognizes a lack of oxygen during these breathing pauses, it sends strong signals to your body to initiate inhalation, triggering a partial awakening in the process.
Although there are several types of sleep apnea, most people who develop this problem have obstructive sleep apnea. OSA occurs when the muscles and other soft tissues that line your airway relax and partially collapse, obstructing your breathing and causing repeated respiratory pauses. Common signs and symptoms of OSA include:
The breathing pauses triggered by OSA can last for a few seconds or longer than a minute, happening a few times — or dozens of times — in a single hour, interrupting your sleep cycle without waking you fully.
The breathing pauses and partial awakenings that OSA causes night after night don’t simply lead to disruptive snoring and daytime fatigue, they can also have far-reaching effects on your physical and mental health. Living with untreated OSA increases your risk of developing:
At Fivestar Pulmonary Associates, our team takes a multifaceted treatment approach to OSA that aims to help you control the disorder successfully from every angle. For many people, this means making helpful lifestyle modifications like starting a smoking cessation program and losing weight; it also typically means using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device to prevent breathing pauses during sleep.
CPAP therapy applies a small amount of positive air pressure through a nasal or mouth mask to keep your airway open as you sleep. Considered the gold standard treatment for OSA, CPAP therapy is highly effective, but it’s not well tolerated by everyone. In such cases, custom oral devices are an excellent alternative treatment option.
For people with mild to moderate OSA — or those with severe OSA who don’t do well with CPAP therapy — wearing an oral appliance during sleep can help prevent breathing pauses, reduce the risk of apnea-related complications, and alleviate chronic snoring.
While there are various OSA appliances, each mouthguard-like device works in a similar way, keeping your airway open by holding your soft tissue in the same position while you sleep. Mandibular advancement devices bring your lower jaw forward to prevent airway obstruction; other devices hold your tongue in a different position to achieve the same effect.
OSA oral devices are fairly straightforward, in that they’re designed to be inserted before sleep and removed in the morning. Some are one-piece devices, while others have separate (and usually connecting) pieces for your upper and lower jaw. Some OSA oral appliances are also adjustable.
If you’re prescribed a custom oral device for OSA, our team ensures a perfect fit from day one and conducts close follow-up care to make sure your device is effective and isn’t causing any dental issues.
If you’re living with untreated sleep apnea — or if your current OSA treatment plan isn’t working for you — our team at Fivestar Pulmonary Associates can help. Call or click online to schedule a visit at our nearest office today.