Sleep apnea treatment begins with sleep apnea diagnosis. Once a sleep physician has determined that you do in fact suffer from sleep apnea and has identified which type of sleep apnea that you have, treatment can begin.
Sleep Apnea Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Usually, our Corpus Christi dentist Dr. Lowrance finds that the best sleep apnea treatment for people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea is to help them achieve a more balanced neuromuscular bite. To do this, he first has to identify whether or not your TMJ (the jaw joint), is the root cause of your sleep apnea. Dr. Lowrance uses a machine called a K7, made by Myotronics, to get a reading on your TMJ’s position. It works like a GPS system, tracking your jaw’s movement as it opens and closes. With this system, Dr. Lowrance is able to assess where your optimal jaw position is, and how far off your jaw’s natural position is from that position when it closes.
If your jaw is not in a neuromuscularly balanced position, your throat will not be held open, which means that your airway is at the mercy of your tongue and your throat’s soft tissues to get air. If you have a narrow airway, this is even more critical.
Sleep Apnea Appliances
Using the information that he gets from your sleep screening and from your K7 results, Dr. Lowrance can work with a laboratory to create a sleep apnea appliance that will help position your jaw correctly. Different oral sleep apnea appliances work in different ways, but in general, they pull the jaw and tongue forward to open the throat and facilitate easy breathing. Read more about sleep apnea appliances.
Other Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
There are a variety of sleep apnea treatment options other than oral appliances. Dr. Lowrance has experience working with patients that have tried other methods, and has frequently found that the best treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is sometimes a combination of two or three other sleep apnea treatment options along with an oral appliance.
CPAP Sleep Apnea Machines
The most common solution for sleep apnea prescribed by physicians who are unaware of the neuromuscular causes of obstructive sleep apnea is a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. CPAP machines use a mask that is worn over the nose and/or mouth during the night. The CPAP machine then pumps air into the mask to prop the airway open with a cushion of air and make sure that the patient is able to breathe without any interruption.
Sleep Apnea Surgery
Sometimes the tonsils and adenoids are so enlarged that removing them can significantly open the airway and improve oxygen levels. Surgery is a serious, irreversible option to treat sleep apnea, but it can be very effective. Some patients also require surgery to removal of the uvula, the small organ that dangles in the back of your throat. This is generally done using a laser and is an outpatient procedure.
Another surgical option is the implantation of palatal pillars. Palatal pillars are small polyester implants that are placed in the soft palate. The implants work similarly to how rebar makes concrete stronger. They stiffen the soft palate so that it doesn’t collapse and vibrate while you’re sleeping. The procedure is done in a single office visit and is reversible.
Central and Complex Sleep Apnea Treatment
Treatment for central and complex sleep apnea requires a close relationship with a physician, but can still be treated with an oral sleep apnea appliance in conjunction with a CPAP airway pressure hose so that the patient doesn’t have to wear a mask. In this way, the patient doesn’t have to use a higher pressure setting on a CPAP machine. The oral appliance is called the TAP-PAP.
If you have sleep apnea or think that you might have sleep apnea, and you live in the Corpus Christi area, contact sleep apnea dentist, Dr. Don Lowrance today. Call (361) 851-8274.