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Dr. Edwards' Blog

Tired?  Didn't Get Enough Sleep?  You Could Have OSA - Nov. 21, 2012

Obstructive sleep apnea, OSA, is a common sleep-related breathing disorder with public health implications.  It's characterized by repetitive upper airway collapse during sleep.  Several specific treatment options are effective, including a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, oral appliances (OA), surgery to reduce tissue in the throat and pharynx, tongue advancement or maxillomandibular advancement.  CPAP is the criterion standard treatment, but its effectiveness varies greatly depending upon the patient's compliance. Wearing a mask and having air pushed in and pulled out  of one's body during sleep isn't something many people enjoy and it can actually diminish sleep quality.  Oral appliances offer a nice alternative to CPAP and have a higher effective use rate due to their simplicity.

Research by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine concluded that OA are less effective than CPAP but are a reasonable alternative in some situations for patients with mild to moderate OSA.  Patients with severe OSA need to undergo a trial using CPAP before OA  If a trial use of CPAP fails, surgery may be the preferred treatment.  Predicting which patients will have a successful OA experience is difficult and remains an important clinical issue.

The most common obstructive sleep apnea symptoms include:

  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon awakening
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, depression, or irritability
  • Night sweats
  • Restlessness during sleep
  • Snoring

An oral appliance I often recommend has worked very well for some of my patients.  Here's what one had to say about it: 

 "I have always snored a little bit.  My job had relocated into St. Louis 3 years ago.  I guess the move (carpooling back and forth) took a toll on my body.  I have been exhausted and not getting good sleep.  My snoring increased so much that my husband could not get me to quit and has been leaving the room to sleep in a bed on the other side of the house.  MY SNORING WAS THAT LOUD!!  I talked with my physician and he recommended a sleep study, which I did.  The results came back that I did not have sleep apnea.  When my dental cleaning appointment came, I mentioned all of this to Dr. Edwards.  He thought that maybe I just slept well that one night at the sleep study center for whatever reason or did not have enough apneaic events to have a diagnosis of sleep apnea.  He recommended a sleep apnea/snore reducing splint.  He had it made specifically for me.  I wore this splint that same night and every night since.  MY SNORING HAS STOPPED COMPLETELY AND ON THE VERY FIRST NIGHT OF USING THE SPLINT!  I am feeling much better, have more energy and my mood swings are getting better."

Approximate cost for fabricating an oral appliance to treat sleep apnea ranges from $400 -- $1,500.  If you've had a sleep study and have been prescribed a CPAP machine but have difficulty wearing it, please call us for a complimentary consultation and bring your physician's report with you to the appointment.   


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