Obstructive Sleep Apnea has become a huge concern in the medical and dental professions. It can lead to many different signs and symptoms from headaches and daytime sleepiness, to stroke and possible death. A sleep study is needed to find out if you have a mild, moderate, or severe case of sleep apnea.
Often a CPAP machine (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is used for a patient with sleep apnea. The machine pumps a controlled stream of air through different masks. When used properly, the system is excellent at preventing apneic episodes. The biggest issue with CPAP is compliance, and having the patient consistently use the machine every time they sleep (even when napping).
Oral Appliances are a great option for patients with mild or moderate sleep apnea. These appliances position the lower jaw forward and allow for an open airway to stop the apneic event. These have been found to be very useful in patients that could not tolerate the CPAP. It is always a good idea to have an ambulatory or at-home sleep study following introduction of the appliance to be certain that the apneic events have reduced significantly.
There are many different surgical approaches that can be used to try and reduce or stop sleep apnea. The effectiveness of these seems to be unique to each individual.
It has been shown that weight loss can often help in the reduction of sleep apnea.