Feb 09

CPAPContinuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is a device that is used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. It is basically an adjustable air pressure device that delivers air through a tube that is connnected to a mask that covers the nose and mouth. It is a bedside device that can usually be easily transported. When in operation, pressurized air is forced into the airway and through any soft tissue obstruction, providing fresh oxygen to the lungs and enhancing the patients abililty to sleep soundly. CPAP is the gold standard for treating obstructive sleep apnea. However, many people that have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea cannot tolerate a CPAP . Sometimes those people that cannot tolerate the CPAP are the patient’s bedmates. This is usually due to the noise that is produced from the CPAP. An alternative to CPAP that is extremely effective is an oral appliance made by a dentist. Check with your sleep physician or your dentist to see if you would be a candidate for an oral appliance.

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Feb 04

brain-763982-11[1]On Friday February 1, 2010 the American Academy of Sleep Medicine sent out a news release that outlined new research that shows that people who suffer from severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) have decreased concentrations of gray matter throughout the brain.

Gray matter is found in the brain’s cerebral cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for processing information, memory formation and many other crucial brain activities.

Dr. Seung Bong Hong, a professor of neurology at the Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, said in the news release that “Poor sleep quality and progressive brain damage induced by OSA could be responsible for poor memory, emotional problems, decreased cognitive functioning and increased cardiovascular disturbances.” He went on to say that “The use of continuous positive airway pressure therapy could stop further progression of brain damage in patients with severe OSA.”

This study illustrates how serious obstructive sleep apnea is, and how proper diagnosis and treatment is vitally important. CPAP is the gold standard for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. A dental appliance that repositions the jaw in a more forward position can also be very effective. Oral appliances are most effective in the treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea, and people that cannot wear their CPAP.

Reference: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, Feb. 1, 2010

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Feb 03

Wall Street Journal logoThe Wall Street Journal just published this fantastic article entitle “The New Face of Sleep”. It’s all about the dangers of sleep apnea . The author does a wonderful job of defining sleep apnea and the various types of treatments that are available to patients. The author also discusses the fact that obstructive sleep apnea is a treatable condition that is grossly ignored, even after being prescribed the proper treatment from their sleep physician or dentist. Treatments like CPAP and oral appliances made by a dentist are extremely effective. I hope that this article will help to enlighten people about the risks of sleep apnea.

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Feb 01

How does an oral appliance treat obstructive sleep apnea? After being diagnosed with sleep apnea by a sleep physician, a very effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is an oral appliance. Dentists trained in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea can create custom oral appliances that are very effective in the treatment of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, and for those patients that are CPAP intolerant. The oral appliances reposition the tongue and lower jaw (mandible) in a more forward postion during sleep. These appliances are called Mandibluar Anterior Repositioning Splints (MAS). This opens the airway and minimizes, or eliminates, the soft tissue obstruction that is the cause of the person’s apnea. Follow up sleep studies are critical for the proper adjustment of the oral appliances, and to prove the effectiveness of the treatment. Patients are often amazed at the restful nights sleep that they have after being they’ve been fitted with their dental appliance. Dr. Zach Hodgins, a dentist in Orlando, FL, is trained in treating patients that suffer from sleep apnea. His office offers the Somnodent dental appiance for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.

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Jan 27

Obstructive sleep apnea is a deadly medical problem that is becoming more prevelant. In recent years, dentists have become an integral part of the team approach in the treatment of obstructive slee apnea. This is due to several realsons. First, dentists see their patients on a more regular basis than their physician collegues. Second, dentists have been trained extensively in the anatomy and physiology of the airway. This knowledge is essential in the recognition of the signs and symptoms of sleeping and breathing disorders, namely obstructive sleep apnea. Upon recognition, dentists can refer their patients to the appropriate sleep physician or sleep center for a proper diagnosis. Lastly, dentists are skilled in the fabrication of appliances that can treat obstructive sleep apnea. These appliances work very well when treating patients that have been diagnosed with mild-moderate obstructive sleep apnea. The appliances can also be used to treat patients that cannot wear their CPAP.

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Jan 26

There is a perception amongst the general population that snoring is a harmless annoyance, and nothing else. However, this is the furthest thing from the truth. Everyone should know that Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea are very common medical problems that should not be overlooked. Snoring is usually a tell tale sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, a potentially deadly condition. One of the most common symptoms is feeling very sleepy during the day. If you or your loved one snores or is sleepy during the day, they should see a sleep physician for a proper diagnosis and treatment. You can also speak to your dentist about snoring and sleep apnea. Your dentist can help with your snoring and or sleep apnea by making an oral appliance for you. The oral appliances are very effective for the treatment of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea; it is also effective for those patients that cannot wear their CPAP.

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Jan 17

In April 2006, the Institute of Medicine released a 461 page report entitled “Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem” (http://nap.edu). According to the paper, an estimated 50-70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders, with the estimated prevalence of OSAS being 4 to 7% of the U.S. The term used to describe excessive sleepiness is hypersomnolence. The statistics regarding the damage caused by this problem are astounding. $150 Billion annually is lost in decreased productivity and accidents. The medical costs from daytime hypersomnolence alone cost another $48 billion. The most shocking of all the statistics listed within the paper is that 20% of all serious car accidents involve daytime hypersomnolence. This statistic is independent of those accidents involving alcohol.

The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) established “Dentists Against Drowsy Driving” in November 2008. It’s goal is to increase awareness throughout the health professions and the public about the dangers associated with undiagnosed and untreated sleep-related breathing disorders. Dr Zach Hodgins, a dentist practicing in Winter Park, FL, is an expert in treating patients that have been diagnosed by their physicians with OSA. “The problem with sleep-related breathing disorders is that it is a problem that is rarely screened for by most physicians and dentists”, says Dr. Hodgins. Dr. Hodgins recommends that any patient with any signs of sleep apnea see their physician for a proper diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.

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Oct 21

Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be treated on different levels. If you have been diagnosed by a medical doctor with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), you should follow his/her recommendation for professional treatment, which usually will consist of wearing a CPAP or an oral appliance. The oral appliance can be delivered by a dentist trained in sleep dentistry.

In addition to following the medical treatment recommendations, there are 5 things that you can do at home to treat OSA. I will cover each of the 5 things in subsequent blog posts. The five things are:

1) Lose Weight
2) Stop smoking
3) Abstain from drinking Alcohol or taking sedatives before bedtime
4) Sleep on your side
5) Treat nasal congestion before sleeping

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Oct 15

man laying down wearing cpapI have recently joined the I HATE CPAP campaign. It is designed to spread the word about the effectiveness of oral appliances in treating mild to moderate sleep apnea, and for those patients that cannot tolerate their CPAP. In other words, they HATE CPAP…. Don’t get me wrong. CPAP is the GOLD STANDARD for the treatment of sleep apnea. However, if the patient is not wearing their CPAP at all, they are putting themselves at great risk for a major health event. So, a great alternative is an oral appliance that can be made by an experienced dentist that has the proper training for treating these patients. Check out my new website for more info. Also, if you know of someone that is having a problem wearing their CPAP, please share this information with them. It could save their life!!!

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Aug 28

It’s not very often that I’m thanked for saving the life of one of my patients. That happened to me yesterday. I recently completed a smile makeover for a patient while she was sedated. During the procedure, she was snoring very heavily, and even stopped breathing a few times. After completing her treatment, I let her know about her snoring and apnea. I recommended that she have a sleep study ASAP, as this condition can be life threatening if left untreated. She followed my recommendations and completed her sleep study. The results of the polysomnogram showed that she stopped breathing 84 times in one hour! The sleep doctor put her on a CPAP immediately, and told her that if she hadn’t come in for treatment, she would have surely suffered a major health event in the near future. She told all of this to me during her visit yesterday, and added that she was so thankful for me “saving her life”. She said no one had ever mentioned sleep apnea or the dangers that are associated with it. She broke down and started crying with tears of appreciaton. It’s patients like this that really make being a dentist rewarding.

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