Obstructive Sleep Apnea

sleep apnea in vancouverObstructive sleep disorders are medical disorders of the sleep pattern characterized by a temporary, partial or complete, obstruction of the airway:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

“Apnea” = Greek term meaning “without breath”
During sleep there is an overall decrease in the muscle tone of the body. As the throat muscles relax, the soft palate and uvula vibrate while the air passes in and out, producing the sound of snoring. Snoring is produced by a partial obstruction of the airway. Snoring may increase due to alcohol / sedative consumption, weight gain, nasal obstruction and with age.

When the airway obstruction is complete, the condition is called ‘obstructive sleep apnea’ (OSA). OSA occurs in repeated episodes during the night. The episodes vary in length and frequency. During this time the individual continues to make efforts to breathe.

Some of the symptoms indicative of OSA are snoring, fatigue, memory impairment, daytime sleepiness, poor work performance and loss of sexual interest. Severe obstructive sleep apnea can result in serious complications, including heart failure.
The diagnosis of OSA is made by specialized testing: an overnight sleep test called polysomnogram.

While snoring without obstructive sleep apnea is not harmful to one’s health, many people with OSA are not aware that they have it. Obstructive sleep apnea is usually recognized by others who witness the individual during episodes, or it may be suspected because of its effects.

The treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is prescribed by a physician specialized in sleep disorders. The sleep doctor may indicate that an oral appliance may be helpful in alleviating mild to moderate OSA symptoms, or it may be used in conjunction with other treatments, such as CPAP (continuous positive air pressure).

The treatment with an oral appliance is reversible and noninvasive.
The treatment with an oral appliance is provided by a dentist at the recommendation of a physician from the Sleep Disorders Program. The dentist will provide an oral appliance only if he/she received a letter of referral from the sleep doctor.

What to expect in the dental office:

First appointment:

Thorough medical and dental history + thorough examination; dental impressions.

Second appointment:

Delivery of the oral appliance with detailed instructions of use.

Following appointments:

At regular intervals of time (once/month+/-) when the appliance is evaluated for fit and efficacy (the ‘titration’ period) until it is determined that the appliance is functioning optimally.

Maintenance appointments every 6 months (+/-); the ‘recall’ or ‘check-up’.