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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious sleep disorder. If people tell you you snore loudly and make gasping or choking sounds in your sleep, you may have undiagnosed OSA. It’s a potentially serious condition. If you would like to know more about sleep apnea in Falls Church, including how it’s diagnosed and the treatments dentists offer, contact our dental office.
What Does Sleep Apnea Mean?
Apnea is a Greek word meaning “want of breath.” Sleep apnea occurs when your airway is blocked while you are sleeping and you are not getting oxygen. The soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes and physically blocks your airway. You snore loudly and wake up repeatedly during the night to gasp for air, up to 30 times an hour if you have severe OSA. Since you only wake up for a second or two, you may not remember the incidents, so you may wonder why you feel sleepy during the day. If there is no one to tell you that you snore, record yourself for a night. When you’re constantly waking throughout the night, you don’t get the deep sleep you need to recharge your body.
What Sleep Apnea Symptoms Should I Look Out For?
Typical symptoms of obstructive apnea include:
- Loud snoring
- Waking up gasping
- Daytime sleepiness
- Sore throat upon waking
- Pounding morning headaches
- Difficulty concentrating
What Sleep Apnea Causes Can I Control?
The following increase your risk of developing OSA:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having greater than a 17 inch neck
- Men are twice as likely to have OSA
- Post-menopausal, overweight women are also at risk
- A family history of OSA
- Having high blood pressure
- Excessively consuming alcohol
- Using sedatives or tranquilizers
How Do Dentists Treat Sleep Apnea in Falls Church?
You can often treat mild-to-moderate conditions with lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and sleeping on your side, in conjunction with oral appliance therapy offered by our dentist. Other options for moderate-to-severe cases include CPAP therapy, where you wear a face mask connected to a machine providing continuous airway pressure or surgery. Surgery is usually a last resort.
If you believe you have OSA, call our office to make an appointment. Our dentist will determine the severity of your OSA and refer you to a medical doctor for a diagnosis. The doctor will write a prescription for an oral appliance device for you if necessary.
Do I Need an Oral Appliance for Sleep Apnea?
The FDS has approved oral appliances for mild and moderate OSA and for individuals with severe OSA who cannot tolerate using a CPAP machine. You wear an oral appliance, which looks like a mouth guard you would wear to play sports, to keep your airway open at night. The most common oral appliances fit over your upper and lower teeth and have hinges which ease your lower jaw slightly forward. This helps keep your airway open. It may take a few days to get comfortable wearing the appliance, but you will soon be enjoying the benefits of a good night’s sleep.
How Much Will a Sleep Apnea Mouth Guard Cost?
You would have to schedule an appointment so our dentist can assess your needs and recommend the right oral appliance for you. Since the appliance is tailor made, the cost varies. If you have health insurance coverage for oral appliance therapy, this will also impact your direct costs. OSA is a serious medical condition; we don’t recommend over-the-counter anti-snoring devices to treat OSA.
What Are the Benefits of Choosing Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) Treatment?
Many of our patients find an oral appliance quieter and more comfortable than using a CPAP machine with a mask. A CPAP machine is effective for treating OSA, but only if an individual uses it. People are more likely to wear their oral appliance if it fits comfortably than use their CPAP machine. Oral appliances are lightweight and comfortable. After your fitting, you’ll come back to our office so our dentist can ensure your oral appliance fits properly to ensure you wear it every night.
It’s also much easier to travel with an oral appliance. With a CPAP therapy machine, you have to carry along the machine, mask, and hoses and hope there is an outlet close to your bed.
Will Dental Insurance Cover Oral Appliance Therapy?
In many cases, it’s a patient’s health insurance which covers the cost of an oral appliance. While not all health plans cover treatment for OSA, most offer at least partial coverage. Refer to your health coverage policy for more information.
If you would like to explore using an oral appliance for sleep apnea in Falls Church, call our office to schedule an appointment.