Your Harleysville source for Snoring & Sleep Apnea Solutions
Most dentists do not offer any treatment for snoring. A few dentists offer treatment for snoring without taking the necessary steps to diagnose the severity of the problem, usually because they do not possess the training or expertise. Only a handful of dental practitioners work with sleep physicians to effectively diagnose and treat the larger category of sleep disorders, which include obstructive sleep apnea and primary snoring.
Right now, you might be saying, “Well, I don’t have breathing problems, I just snore.” In fact, this may be the case, but treating your complaint of snoring without first ruling out a more serious problem is just not prudent. Would you be OK with a prescription of pills for hypertension without first having your blood pressure checked? Studies have shown that a majority of snorers actually have at least some level of sleep apnea, which can have serious health consequences if left unmanaged, including chronic heart problems and an increased risk of stroke.
At The Indian Valley Snore Shop, Dr. Nase will suggest appropriate avenues for diagnosis and treatment of your sleep disorder, based on a comprehensive oral examination and analysis of your symptoms. The golden standard of diagnosis for sleep disorders is a sleep study (polysomnography – PSG) conducted by a qualified sleep specialist at an overnight sleep clinic. Dr. Nase can facilitate this referral when appropriate. However, some patients may prefer to conduct a home study, which is generally more comfortable and less obtrusive. Using the WatchPAT200, a home monitoring device, Dr. Nase can administer this test and consult with a qualified sleep physician to gauge the severity of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and direct the patient towards treatment and/or possible further diagnosis with a PSG if indicated. Please note that OSA is a serious medical condition which must be diagnosed by a physician – a step that emphasizes the importance of a “team” (dentist & physician) approach to these problems.
Good sleep hygiene, weight loss, and exercise are some helpful OSA treatments a patient can perform on their own. However, medical and dental treatments including Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT), and/or surgery may be indicated.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is pressurized air generated from a bedside machine. The air is delivered through a tube, connected to a mask, covering the nose. The force of the pressurized air splints the airway open. The CPAP opens the airway like air into a balloon; when air is blown into the balloon, it opens and gets wider. This is exactly how CPAP clears the airway. CPAP therapy is most often prescribed by your physician as treatment for a positive test result for OSA from a sleep study. Its effectiveness is found to be superior to other treatment modalities, especially in moderate to severe cases of apnea. However, a significant proportion of patients prescribed CPAP have difficulties with compliance, and end up not effectively being treated with CPAP alone.
Hate your CPAP?
If you have your CPAP, chances are that you have been previously diagnosed with a dangerous sleep disorder via a polysomnogram (PSG) and are currently struggling with using your CPAP machine.
You are not alone. Compliance with CPAP for some patients is difficult due to a myriad of issues, including claustrophobia while wearing the mask, airway dryness, machine noise, or simply the maintenance of the parts. Your CPAP is only effective if you wear it consistently, night after night, all night.
One alternative may be an oral mandibular advancement splint (MAS), either in conjunction with your CPAP, or alone. The Indian Valley Snore Shop can work with your sleep physician for recommendation of this treatment. Dr. Nase is skilled in the fabrication, adjustment, and recognition of problems which occasionally occur with these devices. Dr. Nase also offers follow up testing to gauge the effectiveness of the appliance.
Talk to your sleep physician or call Dr. Nase today for a consultation.
Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT)
Oral appliances are worn in the mouth to treat snoring and OSA. These devices are similar to orthodontic retainers or sports mouth guards. Oral Appliance Therapy involves the selection, design, fitting and use of a custom designed oral appliance that is worn during sleep. This appliance then attempts to maintain an opened, unobstructed airway in the throat. There are many different oral appliances available. Approximately 40 appliances have been approved through the FDA for treatment of snoring, but fewer are approved to also treat OSA. In most cases, the oral appliances used by Dr. Nase fit into this more rigid category and are classified as durable medical equipment (DME) for insurance purposes. One of these models, the Somnomed MAS even comes with a warranty! Dr. Nase often says, “When it comes to these devices, you get what you pay for…” Oral appliances may be used alone or in combination with other means of treating OSA. These means include general health, weight management, surgery, and CPAP.
Oral appliances work in several ways:
- Repositioning the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula
- Stabilizing the lower jaw and tongue
- Increasing the muscle tone of the tongue
Dentists with training in Oral Appliance Therapy are familiar with the various designs of appliances. They can determine which one is best suited for your specific needs. Dr. Nase will work with your physician as part of the medical team in your diagnosis, treatment, and on-going care. Determination of proper therapy can only be made by joint consultation of your dentist and physician. Initiation of oral appliance therapy can take from several weeks to several months to complete. Dr. Nase will continue to monitor your treatment and evaluate the response of your teeth and jaws.
In addition to Oral Appliance Therapy, your professional team may suggest referral to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for upper airway surgery. These dental specialists treat upper airway obstructive disorders by utilizing both minimally invasive procedures as well as more complex surgery, including jaw advancement. Additionally, an ENT specialist may evaluate you for other types of surgery, mainly the removal of the excess tissues in the throat. It may be necessary to remove tonsils and adenoids (especially in children), the uvula, or even parts of the soft palate and the throat.
To learn more about the best snoring solutions and dental care in the Harleysville area, contact us today.