What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a medical condition that causes a person to actually stop breathing while asleep. These interruptions of oxygen cause a wide variety of symptoms (link to consequences) and is linked to some serious conditions.

Apnea sufferers can stop breathing as many as 40 times per minute. They awaken feeling as though they had little or no sleep, which is actually true as they’ve been fighting for oxygen all night.

How prevalent is sleep apnea?

It’s estimated that as many as 15 million people suffer from sleep apnea. It’s more prevalent in men than women.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

If someone suspects they may have sleep apnea, a sleep study (polysomnogram) should be done. This study will accurately measure what happens during sleep and how severe the problem is.

What are the most common treatments for Sleep Apnea?

The most common treatment is a CPAP machine (link). CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Air Pressure. This is basically a machine that sits beside the bed. The patient wears a mask that fits across the face. The machine blows air into the nose all night. Many people who must wear a CPAP machine find that they can’t tolerate it and so end up not using it which allows the condition to go untreated. Fortunately there are alternatives to the CPAP machine.

Oral appliance therapy

Surgical Treatment

There are a few different kinds of surgeries that can be performed in an attempt to resolve sleep apnea or severe snoring. However, surgery carries risk for complications and infection, requires an uncomfortable recovery period, and has a high failure rate.

Fortunately, we offer a number of oral appliance alternatives that are proven to offer relive to sleep apnea sufferers. Contact us now for an evaluation to see which one is right for you.

Tell us about what you are offering for those who have sleep apnea.

Oral sleep appliances and therapy. These have proven to be a viable alternative to CPAP. Some of the benefits of an oral appliance over the CPAP are: no uncomfortable masks or hoses, does not promote claustrophobia like the CPAP can, tolerated much better than CPAP, no mask impression left on the face, far more convenient for travel, airports, camping, etc. The biggest benefit is that you and your spouse can actually sleep in the same bed!

Practice Parameters for the Treatment of Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea with Oral Appliances

How did your interest come about with your work with sleep apnea?

During my two year TMJ and Oral Facial Pain Resident Training Program at UMDNJ, I began to realize that there were apparently connections between chronic pain and abnormal sleep. The National Institute of Health (NIH) and it’s National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) had a workshop with the objective of reviewing what is known about cardiovascular and sleep-related consequences of temporomandibular disorder (TMD).

Pathophysiology and Clinical Consequences of Sleep and Temporomandibular Disorders

Who are good candidates for this oral appliance?

Anyone who snores.
Anyone who has already been diagnosed with sleep apnea.
Anyone who cannot tolerate their CPAP machine.
Anyone suffering from the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea.

Signs & Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

How can you tell if you or a loved one suffers from OSA?

  • ADD and ADHD symptoms
  • Lack of concentration – inability to focus
  • Depression
  • Morning headaches upon awakening
  • Dry mouth
  • Restless sleep
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Sexual dysfunction – Erectile dysfunction
  • Falling asleep while driving, working and reading
  • Short term memory loss
  • Gasping and choking during sleep
  • Sleepiness and fatigue during the day
  • General tiredness throughout the day
  • Snoring with pauses in breathing
  • Heartburn or Acid Reflux
  • Sore throat
  • Irritability and Anxiety

Contact us today for your own sleep disorder evaluation.
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What can happen if sleep apnea is left untreated?

Disturbed and interrupted sleep can cause a wide variety of problems, from the minor to the very serious.

Disturbed sleep can make a person drowsy during the day. Fatigue is the main complaint expressed by apnea sufferers. But that’s only the beginning of the problems. Sleep apnea has been linked to these conditions:

  • Accidents
  • Increased Mortality
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Inability to Lose Weight
  • Diabetes
  • Poor Quality of Life
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Increased Healthcare Costs
  • Weight Gain – Slow Metabolism

Contact us today for your own sleep disorder evaluation.
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What can we do if we think we suffer from Sleep Apnea?

Contact us right away. We will suggest a course of action that will result in better health and an improved quality of life.

How has health insurance been in covering for this?

This treatment is covered under most medical insurance plans. Our patient care coordinator will work with you to maximize your insurance benefits and minimize your out of pocket expense.

How does this appliance or device work?

Research has shown that the tongue is really one of the major factors contributing the blockage of the throat and airway. By gradually repositioning the lower jaw forward, the tongue also moves forward opening the airway and creating better muscle tone in the oral pharyngeal area.

How long does it take?

Generally it takes 4 to 6 visits. Then we continue to follow up on the patients care even after they are properly fitted with the appliance.

Will my snoring go away?

Yes, as the apnea is treated the snoring gradually diminishes with the proper management of the oral appliance.

I am happy with my CPAP but it’s a hassle going camping and going on business trips. Do I have to give up my CPAP machine?

Oral appliances can be used in three different manners.

First, as an alternative for those individuals who are intolerant to CPAP.

Second, as a hybrid therapy with CPAP the pressure can now be lowered to a more comfortable level to eliminate air leaks and tight masks.

Third, adjunctive usage means that there can be days off from CPAP usage like for camping and business trips.

Is it comfortable?

Yes.

Is it hard to get use to?

No, it does not feel that much different than getting use to an orthodontic retainer.

Can’t my regular dentist do this for me?

NO. Any dentist can take an impression and send it out to a lab. It takes special advanced training and expertise to know the proper appliance selection for each individual and having the knowledge to properly manage the appliance. We have seen many patients who have been treated by an inexperienced dentist who have either developed problems or have had poor results.

I understand that Dr. Blumenstock is Board Certified by the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine. What does that mean?

The American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (ABDSM) is an independent board of examiners that was established in 2004 for duly licensed dentists who treat sleep related breathing disorders. The ABDSM evolved from and replaced the Certification Program of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) (formerly called the Sleep Disorders Dental Society [SDDS]), which had been established in 1998.

The purpose of the ABDSM is to help set standards for the scope of dental sleep medicine, which includes oral appliances and upper airway surgery to treat sleep related breathing disorders such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and to assure professional dental and medical colleagues, patients, and the public of an acceptable level of education, training and experience by those who become Diplomates of the ABDSM by examination. It does not represent a new specialty of dentistry or medicine, nor does it grant or imply any legal qualification, privilege or license to practice. Rather, it simply recognizes those dentists duly licensed by law who have successfully completed the board-certification requirements established by the ABDSM. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recognizes Diplomate status granted by the ABDSM. Currently, there are approximately 160 Diplomates of the ABDSM worldwide.