How to Diagnose & Treat Sleep Apnea

Wednesday August 22, 2018 by
Melissa Brown, DDS

Because we’re doing a special Sleep Apnea Awareness Week here at Murray Hill Dental, this seemed like the perfect time to educate our patients on sleep apnea. So, read on to learn what it is, how to know if you have it, and what treatment options are available.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the night. This can occur hundreds of time during sleep, preventing the brain and the rest of the body from getting enough oxygen. There are two main types of sleep apnea :

· Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This is the most common type. It occurs when throat muscles relax during sleep, causing a blockage of the airway.
· Central Sleep Apnea. With this type of sleep apnea, the airway isn’t blocked. However, due to instability in the respiratory control center, the brain doesn’t signal the muscles to breathe.

How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?

Although we can’t diagnose sleep apnea here at Murray Hill, your primary physician can make a diagnosis of sleep apnea. To do so, he or she might suggest that you have a polysomnogram, which is a sleep apnea test. The test records physical activity while you sleep which is then evaluated by a sleep specialist.

Can Sleep Apnea Be Cured?

Yes, sleep apnea can be cured. In the case of obstructive sleep apnea, the American College of Physicians (ACP) strongly recommends weight loss for overweight patients who suffer from sleep apnea. Weight loss can greatly reduce symptoms, sometimes curing the condition altogether.

Central sleep apnea often occurs in conjunction with another illness. By treating that underlying illness, central sleep apnea symptoms can sometimes be reduced or eliminated.

Are Treatments Available for Sleep Apnea?

Yes, the most common treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. With CPAP, sleep apnea sufferers wear a mask over their nose while sleeping that delivers a steady stream of air. This keeps the airway open while sleeping. While CPAP has been shown to be effective, many people find the machine loud, cumbersome, and difficult to become accustomed to.

Another treatment option is a mouth guard. A custom-fitted mouth guard is a comfortable and effective CPAP alternative that’s FDA-approved. As with CPAP, a mouth guard also keeps the airway open during sleep. However, most patients find a mouth guard easier to wear, quieter, and more convenient for traveling.

How Can I Get a Custom-Fitted Mouth Guard to Treat Sleep Apnea?

We create mouth guards here at Murray Hill Dental for our sleep apnea patients. If you already have a sleep apnea diagnosis and want to talk to us about using a mouth guard for treatment, please contact our office. We’ll be happy to construct a mouth guard for you, so you can get a good (healthy) night’s sleep!

To reach our N. Murray Hill Road office servicing the Western Columbus area, please contact 614.427.0116. To reach our Northern location in Westerville, call 614.508.0044.