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People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have disrupted sleep and low blood oxygen levels. One of the causes of obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the tongue falls back and constricts the airway. This blocks the upper airway and airflow is severely diminished or stopped. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears, and the flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp.
Repeated cycles of decreased oxygenation lead to very serious cardiovascular and other health problems. Additionally, these individuals suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, and loss of concentration.
Some patients have obstructions that are less severe called Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS). In either case, the individuals suffer many of the same symptoms.
The first step in treatment for sleep apnea resides in recognition of the symptoms and seeking appropriate consultation, sleep studies, and diagnosis.
In addition to a detailed history, the doctors will assess the anatomic relationships in the maxillofacial region. With cephalometic (skull x-ray) analysis, the doctors can ascertain the level of obstruction. Sometimes a naso-pharyngeal exam is done with a flexible fiber-optic camera. To confirm the amount of cardiovascular compromise and decreased oxygenation levels, a sleep study will be recommended to monitor an individual overnight.
There are several treatment options available. The gold standard treatment for severe cases will consist of using a nasal CPAP machine. A CPAP delivers pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask to limit obstruction at night. Many people can’t tolerate a large bulky mask over their faces at night and seek an alternate form of treatment.
For patients with a mild and moderate form of Obstructive Sleep Apnea an oral appliance is a great option. Dr. Fialkoff, Dr. Lebowitz and Dr. Sparks have great experience treating patients with oral appliances for OSA. Both doctors are members of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.
OSA is a very serious condition that needs careful attention and treatment. Most major medical plans offer coverage for diagnosis and treatment and we can help you maximize your medical and dental insurance to cover a good portion of out of pocket expenses.
For more information and to set up an appointment to discuss your Sleep Apnea needs, call us at Paradise Valley Dental Phone Number 480-998-7775.
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