Sleep Apnea Often Treatable with Oral Appliance Therapy
“If you or your bed partner snores, please call me and ask about a sleep apnea consultation.”
Sleep apnea (SA)—typically characterized by snoring interrupted by sudden, intermittent gasps or silence—is not just annoying. It can also pose a significant health risk. But mild to moderate SA can be treated with oral appliance therapy, says Dr. David Lerner of The Center for Holistic Dentistry, Yorktown Heights.
“Sleep apnea occurs when the tongue and soft palate collapse onto the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway, causing air flow to stop. In other words, it causes you to stop breathing, cutting off your oxygen intake,” Lerner says.
In addition to excessive daytime sleepiness, studies show that SA patients are more likely to suffer from heart problems and strokes, as well as having a higher incidence of work-related and driving-related accidents. Although SA is thought to be primarily a male affliction, by the onset of menopause, the ratio of women to men sufferers increases dramatically, from a third to half—likely due to hormonal changes that lead to fat deposition to the neck and stomach instead of the hips and thighs, he says.
With good sleep habits, weight loss and exercise, patients can often manage symptoms on their own. But if SA persists, Lerner says, a physician should perform a sleep study to determine if medical treatment is needed. “The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the FDA now recommend oral appliance therapy as the preferred treatment for mild to moderate apnea,” he says. “The result is a quiet, healthy night’s sleep.” He and his team at The Center for Holistic Dentistry are trained experts in oral appliance therapy and will partner with a patient’s physician to determine which appliance is best suited for his or her specific needs.
“If you or your bed partner snores, please call me and ask about a sleep apnea consultation,” he says. “It could be the first step to better sleep and a healthier life.”