Facts About Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Did you know that it is estimated that at least 75% of the population suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? It not only causes fatigue and severe daytime drowsiness, but many other problems such as poor memory, clouded intellect, personality changes, irritability, decreased sex drive, impotence, morning headaches and many health problems. Obstructive sleep apnea contributes to cardiovascular disease, as well as conditions such as hypertension, stroke, heart attacks and heart disease.

What causes snoring and OSA? During normal sleep we breathe air in through our mouth and nose into our airway. If the muscles of the tongue and palate fall back into the airway, they can constrict the airway or completely close it off. When constricted the air causes the muscles to vibrate, thus causing snoring. When the airway is completely closed off, this causes an apnic event to occur (stop breathing) which causes your brain to wake you to start breathing again. Thus someone’s quality of sleep is greatly affected by these continuous awakenings or arousals throughout the night.

The first and most effective treatment for OSA is a CPAP machine. Unfortunately many people cannot tolerate wearing their CPAP and end up doing nothing to help their condition. Oral appliance therapy is an alternative to CPAP. An oral appliance is a small plastic device that fits over the teeth, just like an orthodontic retainer or mouth guard. The appliance is worn in the mouth during sleep to prevent the soft tissue of the throat from collapsing and obstructing the airway. Oral appliances work by slightly advancing the lower jaw which in turn moves the base of the tongue forward and opens the airway to allow improved breathing and reduced snoring and apneas during sleep.

If you are being affected by sleep apnea, we can help!

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Call (253) 845-9507 or make an appointment online!

Does My Dental Insurance Pay?

If you have dental insurance coverage, like most people, you want to know how much of the treatment will be covered and how Tucson dentistmuch out-of-pocket expense will I have?

Most dental benefit plans arise from an agreement between an insurance company and a plan sponsor [employer or union]. There are literally hundreds of plans with endless variables concerning limitations, exclusions, deductibles, annual of lifetime maximum benefits, co-payments and fee schedules. If you have changed jobs, your new plan may not have any resemblance to your old one.

If you are being offered a plan, ask if there are several plans from which to choose. Beside yourself, who in the family will be covered? See if the plan you choose covers pre-existing conditions. If the plan is provided by your union or employer, is there any direct cost to you? If so, how much? Compare this with what you understand the benefits of the program to be.

If you already have dental insurance, we need you to bring in specific information for us to give you the best advice as to your coverage. We must have your insurance policy and ID number. Most important, bring your benefits booklet. If you don’t have one, call your employer or insurance company and request it.

Once we read the benefits book, we can project a general idea for what services and treatment are covered and the percentage of reimbursement. Many third party payers request a “predetermination of benefits” on treatment plans. We can submit the proper form and appropriate records to the insurance company. They will return it with the accepted, allowable treatment and the exact amount of coverage.

Once we have reviewed your plan, we should be able to answer most of your questions. Some plans will only allow the least expensive way to treat a problem, regardless of your choice or our recommendation. We would hope that you don’t base your dental needs and oral health solely on what benefits your plan allows. Our office will be happy to discuss a variety of financial arrangements that will make it possible to receive the treatment you need, while maximizing your insurance benefits.

Snoring: An Indication Of A Serious Health Problem?

tucson dentistsDid you know that one third of the population snores?  This is more that 90 million people at risk for a serious, life threatening disorder that can be masked by the sound of snoring.

Snoring is a phenomenon relating to the collapse of the pharyngeal airway space (throat) due to the relaxation of the throat muscles making the airway space smaller.  These relaxed soft tissues vibrate in the back of the throat causing breathing to be noisy and interpreted as snoring.

One of the contributing factors to this collapse is a lack of firmness in the ligaments associated with mandibular (jaw) posturing. Consequently, during sleep, the jaw may fall back displacing the tongue into the airway space.  People that have a TMJ Disorder or Dysfunction are at an increased risk for sleep disordered breathing.  

Inadequate occlusion (bite) associated with a TM disorder, excessive weight and/or tissue growths within the airway space are all contributing factors.   Additionally, collapse of the airway space may result from excess fatty tissue associated with obesity, and inflammation of the throat tissue due to alcohol and tobacco consumption.

Progression of this disorder can lead to further collapse of the airway space resulting in a sleep disordered breathing condition known as obstructive sleep apnea.  Obstructive sleep apnea is linked to a myriad of serious systemic conditions including, but not limited to, stroke and death.

If you suspect you have sleep apnea your first step is to contact your medical or dental sleep doctor.

After seeing a medical or dental sleep doctor, a referral may be provided to a sleep specialist for a polysomnogram (Attended Sleep Study).    A diagnosis of mild to moderate sleep apnea suggests a treatment  protocol of a dental mandibular repositioning appliance as opposed to a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device used for moderate to severe sleep apnea.  An anti-snoring oral device is only indicated when obstructive sleep apnea has been ruled out by the medical sleep specialist.

Mandibular repositioning appliances are the most conservative and non-invasive form of treatment.  They have a very high success rate (90+%)when worn as directed.  CPAP has a 100% success rate when used as directed.  Unfortunately, CPAP intolerance is high due to a myriad of reasons from clostrophobia to TM Joint pain.

Surgical procedures are usually the last line of intervention.  The one year success rate is approximately 50%.

At Arizona Dental Medicine we partner with medical sleep specialists for the diagnosis and treatment recommendations.  Medical sleep specialists in turn partner with us by providing prescriptions for mandibular repositioning appliances.  Call us today if you suspect that you may have this potentially life threatening disorder.  520-297-9069

Obstructive Sleep Apnea – Do You Have This Potentially Life-Threatening Condition?

sleep apneaObstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a potentially life threatening condition that many people have but are not aware of.  In fact, over 20 million Americans suffer from OSA and aren’t even aware of it.

An apnea occurs when breathing stops 10 seconds or more while you are asleep. Common signs of OSA are coughing or choking sensations that force you to wake up or “getting elbowed” by a sleeping partner.

Getting woken up from a deep sleep causes much strain on your heart and cardiovascular system.

Snoring is often associated with OSA, although not everyone who snores has this condition.  OSA prevents air from reaching the lungs even though your body continues its effort to breathe.

If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause or worsen:

  • High blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease
  • Risk for heart attack
  • Risk for stroke
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Weight gain
  • Migraine headaches
  • Hyperactivity in children
  • Memory problems
  • Impotency and sexual dysfunction
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Job impairment
  • Motor vehicle crashes

If you think you may be suffering from sleep apnea, please do not hesitate to call Arizona Dental MedicineWe specialize in diagnosing and successfully treating patients with sleep apnea.  Call today…(520) 297-9069