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Natural Awakenings Lehigh Valley

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

When sleep apnea was first recognized in 1965, it was thought to be simply a short cessation of breathing during sleep and the main treatment was a tracheostomy which tried to remedy airway obstructions. Fast forward to 1985 when continuous positive airway pressure, CPAP, became the gold standard of care which meant that a face mask was strapped to one’s face to create the necessary force of air needed to physically open a collapsed airway during sleep. From that time, obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, has continued to be better understood and now is a major health issue. Evidence and research have shown that OSA is a significant factor of a number of medical diseases such as cardiovascular disease, arrythmias, heart failure, systemic hypertension, stroke, and diabetes.

         With obesity on the rise, more and more people are having to resort to CPAP as their only hope to reduce the risk of illness and premature death due to the hypoxia created by sleep apnea. Although many have found the treatment to be beneficial, there are a significant and growing number of people who have experienced side effects such as upper respiratory and nasal infections, skin irritations, dry mouth and dental cavities, claustrophobia, and weight gain. It is a known fact that 50% of people who try CPAP, are not using it a year later. Famed linebacker Reggie White of the Philadelphia Eagles died at the age of 42 from complications of OSA. His CPAP was under his bed.

         An alternative to CPAP is dental appliance therapy and it can achieve excellent results when compared to CPAP for people who have mild to moderate OSA. Dental appliance therapy places the lower jaw at a position whereby the airway is prevented from collapsing during sleep and lying down. These appliances are comfortable, easy to get used to, and bypass many of the symptoms and side effects found with CPAP therapy. Claustrophobia from a mask placed on the face is not experienced by dental appliance usage. Exposure to bacteria, viruses, and fungus from the CPAP tubing is no longer an issue and the appliance is easily cleaned when a person brushes their teeth in a normal routine. And one of the biggest benefits of appliance therapy is that a bed partner is able to sleep in the same bed again because the earsplitting snoring is gone. Problems with dental appliance therapy, such as TMJ disturbances and tooth movement, are minimal and usually fixed by adjustments of the appliance.

         Having your own body help in the treatment of OSA is a holistic approach to apnea, and one which many people have realized better sleep, health, and wellbeing without having to resort to invasive medical solutions.

For more information; Dr. David Burt, DDS, FICOI, FICD. Dental Sleep Medicine of Lehigh Valley. 2004 South 5th Street, Allentown, PA 18106. Call 610-791-2307 for a free consultation.