Every night, millions of Americans endure the effects of Snoring and Sleep Apnea, yet few are even aware of the potential health dangers. (“Apnea” comes from the Greek and means “without breath”). Snoring used to be just a joke, but now it is a critical indicator of a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder known as “Obstructive Sleep Apnea”. If untreated, OSA can be deadly… Fortunately, OSA is treatable… The present standard of care is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) - remembered as “the mask, tube and air pump” – or - Surgery to remove the offending excess soft tissues when indicated.
The Snoring and Sleep Apnea Center offers an alternative sanctioned treatment – OAT - Oral Appliance Therapy – accepted and recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (ACSM) as a first line treatment for mild to moderate OSA and in those cases of severe apnea where CPAP has not worked. OAT is also indicated for patients who snore but do not obstruct, and for those that have not responded to behavioral interventions - i.e. losing weight, sleeping on your side, stop smoking, avoiding alcohol, sleeping pills, muscle relaxants, especially before bed.
What is OAT - Oral Appliance Therapy?
Oral Appliance Therapy is the use of a dental appliance, similar to an orthodontic retainer or an athletic mouthguard, which is worn in the mouth during sleep to prevent the soft tissues of the throat from collapsing and obstructing the airway. Dr Gruenes has special training in Snoring, and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Oral Appliance Therapy and will carefully select, design, construct, and fit these special appliances to meet the specific anatomical, physiological and comfort needs of the sleep apnea patient. In recent clinical studies, physicians and dentists have shown that, in a majority of apnea patients, a properly selected, well-designed, well-fitted oral appliance can effectively reduce and sometimes even eliminate snoring, and significantly relieve symptoms of mild to moderate OSA.
Indications for Oral Appliance Therapy
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has stated that oral appliances are indicated as a first treatment of choice for patients with primary heavy snoring and/or mild obstructive sleep apnea and as a treatment option for patients with moderate or severe sleep apnea who cannot tolerate CPAP and/or are not good candidates for surgery. Oral Appliance Therapy can also be useful in combination with CPAP when there are compliance issues with nasal CPAP alone, e.g. the treatment pressures can usually be lowered and made more tolerable. The first step is taking our sleep apnea survey online and then making an appointment to allow the Snoring and Sleep Apnea Center to conduct a take-home sleep study of your suspected airway obstruction problem. After analysis we will suggest some possible treatments as directed by Dr. Gruenes.