Mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea can often be treated by your dentist with the use of a comfortable, custom-made oral appliance designed to help you maintain an open airway (and eliminate snoring) as you sleep.
Those with severe sleep apnea, however, have long found themselves faced with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. Although CPAP treatment can be effective, many patients find the air masks cumbersome or claustrophobic and discontinue their use. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently gave new hope to those with severe or otherwise hard-to-treat sleep apnea by approving a pacemaker-like device that keeps the air passage open during sleep through the delivery of an electrical current.
How it Works
One of the primary causes of sleep apnea is the over-relaxation of the tongue and throat muscles during sleep, which can cause your tongue and the tissue in your throat to collapse and obstruct your airway.
The sleep apnea implant, which was developed by Inspire Medical Systems, stimulates the nerve that controls specific muscles within the airway to keep them in place while you sleep. The Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation device is essentially a tiny generator, and it is implanted in the upper-chest region similar to a pacemaker or internal defibrillator; the generator, in turn, is connected to an electrical stimulator in the throat that assesses breathing patterns and produces a current as appropriate to keep the muscles and tissue from obstructing your air passage.
Your Sleep Apnea Consultation
Austin dentist Dr. Dan Matthews understands that no single sleep apnea treatment is right for every patient.
Dr. Matthews does not offer the Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation device recently approved by the FDA, and which was specifically designed for those with moderate to severe sleep apnea or those who have proven unresponsive to more conservative treatments. During your sleep apnea consultation, Dr. Matthews will thoroughly assess your condition, your oral health, and the potential presence of sleep apnea; if he believes you suffer from severe sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, he may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation or a sleep study. Once you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, Dr. Matthews can offer treatment with an oral appliance.
Sleep Apnea Risks
An estimated 12 million to 18 million Americans are afflicted with sleep apnea, according to the National Institutes of Health, and sleep apnea goes undiagnosed in millions of them despite the fact that it can lead to severe health complications. It is frequently dismissed as simple snoring, which is often its most noticeable symptom.
Sleep apnea limits the amount of quality sleep you receive each night, which can lead to fatigue and impaired function while you’re awake. Sleep apnea has also been linked to diabetes and other diseases, and it can contribute to an increased risk of heart attack, hypertension and stroke, among other life-threatening medical conditions.
If you or a loved one experiences loud, chronic snoring and would like to learn whether an oral appliance may be right for you, please contact Dr. Dan Matthews online or call our dental office at 512-452-2273 to schedule your sleep apnea consultation. Dr. Matthews welcomes patients from the greater Austin, Texas, area.