1Why Oral Appliances?
In 2006, The American Academy of Sleep Medicine released a position paper stating that oral appliances are a comparable treatment to CPAP for mild and moderate obstructive sleep apnea and a viable replacement therapy for individuals with severe apnea who cannot tolerate CPAP. So, what does this mean to you? If you are unable to wear CPAP for any reason, you now have an alternative therapy you can live with and tolerate.
2Why do we snore?
Snoring is usually caused by loose or excessive tissue at the back of the throat which collapses into the airway during sleep. This tissue can vibrate as you breathe, causing the annoying and disruptive noise we all know too well.
3Is it normal for children to snore?
No. Children who snore should be evaluated by an ENT for removal of tonsils and adenoids. Children with sleep apnea- yes they can suffer from this sleep disorder-are at a higher risk for ADHD, bed wetting, growth retardation, and other behavior issues. It is imperative that children be able to breathe so they can grow and develop normally. Dr. Levy will be happy to see your child for determination if a referral to an ENT or orthodontist for is needed.
4Do men snore more than women?
Snoring is more frequent in men than in women, but as women near menopause, the hormonal changes and weight gain can result in a very loud snorer!
5What about snoring that keeps the whole house awake?
Snoring that is very loud and can be heard throughout the house is usually the first sign that there may be something else going on. And snoring like this is not just unhealthy for the snorer- inadequate sleep for the bed partner can lead to exhaustion and potential other ill effects. Many patients of Dr. Levy's report sleeping in separate bedrooms. As a matter of fact, one of the new trends in custom built homes is the inclusion of 2 master bedrooms. Sad, but true. Very often, someone who snores does not realize or believe that they do so. Even when others complain about it, the snorer may still say "not me". They also say things like "I can't hear it so it not a problem". It is important for both sides to remember that snorers cannot help the fact that they snore, but they should be willing to treat it so that the whole family can get a good night's sleep.
6My bed partner stops breathing and gasps for air at night. What is this?
Probably obstructive sleep apnea. It should be noted that this disease is very serious and has numerous health implications. It is imperative that the partner have a sleep study to determine if it is obstructive sleep apnea and be prescribed the appropriate therapy.
7So exactly what is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing many times throughout the night, sometimes for dangerously long periods of time. It is estimated that up to 10% of middle-aged men and women may suffer from sleep apnea. With sleep apnea, the airway becomes obstructed, usually by the back of the tongue. With the airway obstructed, a person does not breathe. Obviously, breathing is essential to life and our well being. Every time breathing stops, it cause dangerous low levels of oxygen in the body and heart rate and blood pressure increase. Sometimes this happens up to 80-120 times per hour. Imagine the toll it takes on your body. The gasping you hear at night is the person's attempt to awaken and start to breathe again. The extreme tiredness is due to the constant awakening to catch a breath, never allowing them to get the deep restful sleep needed by the body.
8Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea really that dangerous?
Absolutely! Sleep apnea is linked to heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, impotence, depression and night time urination. One of the most significant symptoms is excessive daytime sleepiness. Take the Epworth Sleepiness Test on this site to see how you score. It is estimated that excessive sleepiness can be as dangerous as drunk driving. Yet no one knows who is on the road suffering from sleep apnea and how many accidents they are causing. One more fact- it is estimated that untreated severe sleep apnea will take 10 years off of your life. Serious indeed!
9I hear the CPAP therapy is the best treatment for sleep apnea. Why should I look at oral appliances?
CPAP is considered the "gold standard" for treating obstructive sleep apnea. It works! However, with long term compliance rates hovering at about 25%, there are a lot of diagnosed patients who are left untreated. In addition to patients who simply refuse to wear CPAPs, the acceptable compliance rate for CPAP therapy is 4 hours per night, 5 night per week. That's a total of only 20 hours of sleep per week! Getting a good nights sleep is so important to our overall health and if you are only getting 20 hours of restful sleep per week, you are walking around exhausted.Many of Dr. Levy's patients have also had the surgery called UPPP which has limited usefulness with many patients. Long term success rates are just hovering at around 55% with many patients having relapses a year or two after surgery.Medical research has shown that oral appliance therapy is very effective for mild and moderate sleep apnea, and very helpful for CPAP intolerant patients who are considered severe cases.
10I have seen snoring appliances on TV. Do they work? Why should I see a dentist if I can buy it on the internet?
Boil and bite mouthpieces are ineffective at treating sleep apnea. Some of them may temporarily help with snoring, but the effect may be short lived. This is a serious medical condition and cannot be treated by a cheap piece of plastic that is being hawked on TV.
11Are all dentists trained in this form of treatment?
No. When selecting a dentist to treat you with an oral appliance, make certain that the dentist has the training, experience and knowledge necessary to treat your problem. Always ask the dentist about their credentials. Where have they trained? How long have they been doing this? How many patients have they treated?
12I am overweight. Does this have an impact on snoring or sleep apnea?
Weight has a direct impact on both. The severity of sleep disordered breathing can change with weight gains and losses. However, sometimes it is all about anatomy. Dr. Levy has treated thin, athletic people who also suffer from sleep apnea.
13Will my medical insurance cover the oral appliance?
Yes! Most policies cover oral appliances for sleep apnea. We file all insurance for our patients and strive to give our patients the most accurate estimate for any out of pocket expenses. Dr. Levy and his staff are committed to making this process as easy as possible for our patients who suffer from sleep apnea. If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us!