Sleep Apnea Solutions
Sleep Better, Boca Raton!
The word apnea means without breath. Sleep apnea is a common disorder that occurs when patients stop breathing for ten or more seconds at a time during sleep. This may not seem like a big concern, but unfortunately for many of those who we treat, chronic sleep apnea can result in numerous health concerns. Patients who suffer from this disorder can experience hundreds of apnea incidents each night, and the result is an imbalance in carbon dioxide and oxygen in the bloodstream. This can lead to issues with cognitive function, memory loss, and other concerns. Additionally, the body is only able to start breathing again by triggering a panic response caused by the change in oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. This panic response elevates blood pressure and awakens the sleeper. Even if they don’t remember waking up, the repeated sleep disturbances can lead to severe exhaustion and more serious health issues like high blood pressure and cardiovascular issues.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
There are two types of sleep apnea – central and obstructive. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to signal the body to inhale. This form of apnea is rare, but it can be extremely dangerous if left untreated. Unfortunately, the therapies our team uses to treat sleep apnea are not effective for the treatment of this form of the disorder, which may require surgical or neurological treatments. The more common form of sleep apnea is obstructive. As the name may indicate, this sleep disorder occurs when the airway is physically blocked preventing patients from inhaling. This more common type of sleep apnea can be treated by a sleep doctor, dentist with training in sleep apnea therapy, or both practitioners working in conjunction.
What Are the Treatments for Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is typically treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), oral appliances, or a combination of the two. CPAP uses a breathing mask placed over the mouth or nose and sometimes completely over both the mouth and nose. This machine pushes air through the mask, forcing the airways open and ensuring the patient breathes and sleeps deeply through the night.
However, many patients struggle to adjust to CPAP. These individuals are said to be CPAP intolerant. In cases of CPAP intolerance, a sleep doctor often recommends patients seek treatment with a custom oral appliance. These appliances shift the jaw forward opening the airway and allowing for unimpeded breathing through the night. For patients who have milder sleep apnea or who just struggle with chronic loud snoring, these oral appliances may be recommended by a sleep doctor from the start.
Patients who frequently travel and those who don’t see adequate improvement with CPAP or an oral appliance alone may want to consider combination therapy. For travelers, transporting a large CPAP system and distilled water is a hassle, but packing up an oral appliance is much easier. If patients find themselves still experiencing frequent apnea incidents while using either CPAP or an oral appliance, we may also recommend they use both treatments together.