If you or a loved one suffer from sleep disordered breathing, you may want to find out more about oral appliance therapy. It’s an FDA-approved treatment that has been shown to be effective for both snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, especially for those who are having trouble wearing a CPAP device.
But if you have already looked into this treatment, you may have found a bewildering range of options. “There are over 80 oral appliances now FDA approved that dentists can choose from to treat patients with sleep apnea,” explained Dr. Don Crow, DDS, founder of Everett Dental Solutions for Sleep.
Although all of the appliances work in essentially the same way, there hasn’t been any comparative research done to guide dentists as to which device would work best in a particular individual. This is why it is important to select an experienced practitioner who is familiar with multiple appliances who can provide a professional fit and a successful protocol.
Crow was the first dentist in the Snohomish County, WA area to offer oral appliance therapy for snoring and sleep apnea. He is a professional member of the American Sleep Apnea Association and a Medicare approved provider. He knows the most important thing with any medical treatment is compliance and that means using the device on an ongoing basis.
Studies have shown only about 60 percent of patients use CPAP long-term due to various reasons including comfort. Yet 92 percent of patients that try oral appliances say they are able to use them long-term. Crow estimates about nine out of 10 of his patients stick with their appliance once they are fitted.
“They are not uncomfortable,” he explained. “Patients don’t wake up in the middle of the night and feel they need to remove it because something about it is bothering them.”
That is important because, if left untreated, sleep disorders can have serious health consequences. It’s more than just waking up feeling tired every morning and not living up to your full potential.
Sleep disordered breathing has been linked to the development or worsening of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression and other ailments. Studies have also suggested sleep apnea can lead to obesity. This is ironic as healthy weight loss is often beneficial in the treatment of sleep apnea symptoms.
Those with untreated sleep apnea are said to be twice as likely to be involved in a car accident. It can affect your judgment at home or at work. Job or school performance can suffer and relationships can be jeopardized. Fortunately, effective treatments are available for those who seek them.
An oral appliance, such as those offered by Crow, works by attaching to the teeth and holding the jaw in a forward position while you sleep. This prevents the tongue and soft palate from falling back and blocking the airway when your body is completely relaxed.
It is this blockage that causes decreased oxygen events characterized by snoring or a brief stoppage of breathing during sleep known as an apneic event. Snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea, but it can also be a sleep disorder itself and can lead to many of the same health issues.
Whatever the cause, decreased oxygen to the brain causes it to wake you up to take a deep breath. This can happen many times a night without a person being aware of it. A sleep partner is often the first one to notice sleep disordered breathing because the snoring, tossing and turning of fragmented sleep can affect them as well.
Oral appliances are small and discreet to wear. They are held entirely inside the mouth. Crow selects models for his patients that are durable, adjustable and have warranties. They are also covered under most insurance for any severity level of sleep apnea and sleep disordered breathing.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea by a local sleep physician, he or she would likely refer you to Dr. Crow if you are a candidate for oral appliance therapy.
More information about sleep disordered breathing and oral appliance therapy is available at Crow’s office. Call 425-953-2644 or go online at EvSleep.com.