Solutions to Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a significant health concern in the United States. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, research suggests that approximately 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Worldwide, this number climbs to 936 million. Sleep apnea is prevalent in people of all ages but is most common in overweight men over 40 years old.
Thanks to routine dental appointments, clinicians can screen this condition and offer solutions that can change and even save lives. Burbank Dental Laboratory provides appliance therapy in this area of sleep medicine through its commitment to implement comprehensive laboratory support.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is not a condition that one should take lightly. Sleep apnea means "without breath." It is the phenomenon of a person's breathing repeatedly stopping throughout the night for ten seconds or longer.
There are three types of sleep apnea:
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can be caused by a blockage when the soft tissue falls against the back of the throat, closing the airway.
Central sleep apnea occurs when the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe.
Complex sleep apnea is a more severe sleep apnea where a person suffers from both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
If a dental patient believes they have sleep apnea, there are a few symptoms that are important to consider in a diagnosis. Most people do not know they have signs of sleep apnea until they consult a medical professional, but there are a few symptoms to screen for:
Enlarged tissue in a person's throat or mouth
Waking up tired and restless - as if they go not sleep at all
Unbearably loud snoring while they sleep
Waking up repeatedly and gasping for air
A sore dry throat
Restlessness throughout the day - extreme exhaustion in day-to-day activities
Forgetfulness in daily tasks and a constant change in mood
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The number one indicator that someone may be suffering from sleep apnea is the extremely loud snoring that occurs every and all night. Suffering from sleep apnea means that the other person in bed is suffering as well. Repetitive restless nights customarily result in people sleeping in separate rooms, both partners not receiving enough sleep, or countless fights due in part to the moodiness that lack of sleep causes.
2. Heart problems
Sleep apnea may not seem like a significant issue at first, but it can have deadly effects for a person if left untreated. All three types of sleep apnea cause a lack of oxygen to enter the bloodstream due to the body no longer breathing for various periods of time. The lack of oxygen in the blood and to the heart can cause heart attacks, stroke, and irregular heartbeats to occur more often.
People work on a circadian rhythm, which means there is a particular sleep cycle that ensures people get the most out of their sleep. This sleep cycle usually results in 3-5 cycles circulating through non-REM and REM sleep. REM means rapid eye movement, and when achieved, a person is at their most rested. Sleep Apnea hinders this rhythm and causes the following issues:
- Inability to learn, focus, react and remember things
- Irritable throughout the day and a constant shift in mood
- Laziness and drowsiness throughout the day - not alert in situations
- Some more severe side effects can include heart or kidney disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke, and other life-threatening conditions
Dentists can screen for OSA at routine dental appointments. If a patient has been diagnosed, Burbank Dental Lab offers the following two products that help with the airway blockage:
Elastic Mandibular Advancement (EMA)
The EMA is an easy to use, patient-friendly appliance. The appliance uses pressure-formed materials to construct upper and lower trays with elastic straps on each side. This innovative design offers lateral movements and gradual advancements of the mandible until they receive the desired results. The flexibility of straps allows for quick and easy adjustments, and are positioned in such a way to let the palate be free from obstruction. The design reduces the occurrence of TMJ. The FDA and ADA have approved it in the treatment of OSA. With accurate sleep apnea diagnosis, this appliance has the potential to prevent snoring by allowing for a less restrictive airflow, which results in deeper, more restful sleep.
To provide this type of appliance, Burbank Dental Lab will need an upper and lower model with pencil marks identifying any crowns, implants, or overly sensitive dentition. The bite should be opened 8mm incisally with the hinge open from centric.
Thornton Adjustable Positioner (TAP 3)
The TAP 3 is a mandibular movement device that holds the lower jaw forward, keeping it from falling open during sleep and preventing a collapse in the airway. The appliance is a two-piece device made up of both mandibular and maxillary parts that are held together with a fixed hinge and inseparable pivot point. Interchangeable hooks can accommodate Class I, II, and III bites and increase the vertical distance between upper and lower teeth. There is a single point of central adjustment that prevents uneven bilateral changes. The central adjustment helps to eliminate the possibility of an irregular bite and, ultimately, jaw discomfort. Patients can easily make this adjustment at home to allow for maximum comfort and effectiveness.
To provide this type of appliance, Burbank Dental Lab will need upper and lower VPS impressions. A centric bite registration is also necessary as well as a maximum protrusive measurement.
Dentists can play an essential role in screening for and treatment of OSA. Helping a patient improve or even save their life through a screening and collaboration with a medical referral is a great way to provide exceptional patient care. Burbank Dental Laboratory, through its knowledge of EMA and TAP 3 appliance fabrication, can supply the necessary lab support to help improve lives. Contact Burbank Dental Lab for more information on sleep apnea appliances.