Sleep apnea is a condition we are hearing more and more about as people realize how common it is and how many people are affected. According to the National Institute of Health, 1 in 5 Americans suffer from sleep apnea—an estimated 18 million U.S. adults. It is also estimated that 9 out of 10 cases are not diagnosed. Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is more common in men than in women, in part because they tend to have larger necks. There are other variables that increase the likelihood of OSA as well.
OSA causes the muscles in our mouth, jaw, and throat to relax to the point of collapse during sleep, compromising and obstructing the airway. This causes breathing difficulty and can even stop breathing altogether. Because oxygen is drastically decreased, OSA patients can awaken hundreds of times each night, causing sleep quality and general health to suffer.
Most people have only heard of the CPAP machine for treatment of sleep apnea. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. CPAP is usually the first method used to treat sleep apnea and is considered the industry standard, but an estimated 60% of people do not use their CPAP masks each night, and many give up on using their machines altogether. They are bulky, inconvenient, loud, and make it difficult to share a bed
with another person. CPAP hoses can even become a trip hazard or a distracting plaything for restless pets.
A family history of sleep apnea, being over the age of 40, and a narrow airway are three of the most common sleep apnea risk factors. Others include regular use of alcohol or tobacco and excessive weight. Snoring is a sign of sleep apnea.
Dr. Darr offers a revolutionary solution for OSA treatment that can eliminate use of a CPAP machine forever. He helps fabricate custom-designed dental appliances that can be worn during the night, removed and cleaned in the morning. There is no need for hoses, electric outlets, water reservoirs, or breathing that sounds like Darth Vader. Technological advancements have made it possible to offer several different varieties of dental sleep appliances, some of which are also designed to alleviate teeth grinding or nighttime bruxism.
It’s important to see a healthcare professional other than a dentist—preferably a sleep specialist—
for diagnosis and treatment recommendations. You will likely participate in a sleep study, either in a laboratory or at home with a monitoring machine provided by the doctor.
When the brain is deprived of the oxygen it needs, there is never good news to share. Loud snoring can annoy your spouse or roommate and rival that of your dog, which is bad enough, but untreated OSA can lead to much more dire consequences.