Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Dr. Abelar and his team can help you determine if you have obstructive sleep apnea. In a surprising number of cases, patients think that they are simply a “snorer.” However, snoring can be the most obvious and identifiable symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. With some basic testing, Dr. Abelar can help you determine if you need treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. These are tests that can save lives.
Obstructive sleep apnea is not snoring. It is a failure to breath properly. This is a common misperception because obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the airway. In most cases of sleep apnea, the structural tissue of the airway collapses and closes during sleep. In the case of central sleep apnea, the airway does not become blocked but rather the brain fails to signal the proper muscles to breathe. With mixed apnea, both conditions occur. When apnea occurs, people are roused by signals from the brain causing them to resume breathing. This causes their sleep to be interrupted, inconsistent and of poor quality.
In a consultation with Dr. Abelar, you will learn that stoppage of breathing and the interrupted sleep are both dangerous to your health. It is obvious that depriving the brain of oxygen is damaging. However, it is less commonly understood that interrupted sleep has debilitating effects and not just to mood. Obstructive sleep apnea and its affect on restful sleep has been associated with heart disease, adult onset diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, TMJ, headaches and many more conditions.
Dr. Abelar can help fit you with FDA-approved appliances to treat obstructive sleep apnea. Options include Somnodent and Herbst appliances. In some cases these appliances eliminate the need for sleeping with a CPAP device.
Is SomnoDent® MAS the right treatment option for me?
Dr. Abelar might recommend a SomnoDent® MAS oral appliance if you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea or if you snore. The SomnoDent® MAS appliance is highly likely to put an end to your snoring and eliminate or significantly reduce your obstructive sleep apnea. Using this comfortable appliance can be the difference in your ability to have a restful night’s sleep.
A sleep appliance is worn in the mouth, helping the mouth and jaws maintain a normal open position, thus facilitating normal airflow. Dr. Abelar recommends this device to reduce or eliminate risk factors associated with sleep and oxygen deprivation that result from obstructive sleep apnea.
Most patients consider an oral appliance, such as a SomnoDent® MAS, to be more comfortable and easier to use than a CPAP machine. Dr. Abelar’s obstructive sleep apnea pages commonly mention that they are more likely to use an oral appliance on a regular basis as opposed to the CPAP machine. CPAP machines are not always comfortable, can be difficult to transport if the patient travels and can become tiresome. Following initial use of a sleep appliance, many of Dr. Abelar’s patients say they are amazed at how much more comfortable an appliance is for them.
Severity of OSA
How can you know if your obstructive sleep apnea is severe and therefore dangerous to your health? The tests that Dr. Abelar and his recommended sleep centers perform, test for your Apnea Hypopnea Index. This index is determined by how many apnea (stoppages in breathing) and hypopnea (low breathing rate) events on average in the amount of time slept. 5-15 events/hour is considered mild, 15-30 is considered moderate and more than 30 is considered severe.
Once you know the severity of your obstructive sleep apnea, Dr. Abelar can help you determine the right treatment. As a general guideline for your research, The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends the use of oral devices such as the SomnoDent® MAS for mild-to-moderate OSA (AHI < 25), or for patients with severe OSA who either are unable to tolerate CPAP or refuse treatment with CPAP.
Related Factors for Effectiveness
Dr. Abelar advises patients that other health and fitness factors can impact the effectiveness of appliances. For instance, body mass index (BMI) is a contributing factor. If a patient’s BMI is below 30 (which means that a person is not obese) the probability is higher that the appliance will work successfully. Dr. Abelar also advises patients that their dentition has an impact on how well an oral appliance will work. SomnoMed defines good dentition as at least six teeth on the lower mandible with no periodontal disease. With fewer than six teeth to hold the oral appliance in place, the appliance will not be effective in helping the patient maintain a clear airway.
The Herbst Appliance for Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
With specific but minor modification, Dr. Abelar can adjust the Herbst appliance, to provide effective treatment of snoring and mild-to-moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Abelar recommends the Herbst appliance because it also offers the benefit of adjustability. The Herbst oral appliance moves the jaw forward, correcting for the closed airway. If desired relief for snoring or sleep apnea is not achieved immediately, Dr. Abelar can adjust the Herbst appliance allowing for additional forward movement of the mandible. These features give Dr. Abelar and his team flexibility in addressing obstructive sleep apnea.
Additional Custom Services
Dr. Abelar also may provide patients with a “chew toy”, which corrects any temporary bite discrepancies that have occurred during the night. When properly placed, a chew toy allows back teeth to fit together again after a very short time. The chew toy appliance is worn for up to thirty minutes in the morning allowing muscles to accommodate bringing the teeth back together.