Kick CPAP To The Can With Effective, FDA Approved Oral Appliances For Sleep Apnea

added on: March 30, 2024

In like a lion, out like a lamb…

… so they say about the month of March. No matter how March comes in or goes out, we’ve come to know it for more sunshine and the welcome emergence of flowers and trees coming back to life. And, love it or hate it, March restarts daylight savings time (DST).

Losing an hour on the clock is a dread for many people. DST forces Americans to adjust their sleep/awake times according to the clock versus the biological clock that governs individual sleep rhythms. While some states and U.S. territories do not conform to the DST pattern, most do. Thus, the majority of the U.S. is handed a twice-a-year reset.

For people who sleep peacefully and get good sleep most nights, DST is no big deal. However, when people who are frequently sleep deprived face the Monday morning after, it’s a reminder that quality sleep is not only alludes them, it is seemingly out of reach.

As a dentist in Shelby Twp. for over 25 years, I’ve seen may patients who have suffered from sleep deprivation. Some admit to being heavy snorers (or are married to one!). Others feel they may be experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea. As concerning and bothersome as snoring is, sleep apnea is an entirely different challenge and one that can have severe and even deadly consequences.

According to the Sleep Foundation, about 40% of men and 24% of women habitually snore. Yet, loud snoring is problematic for more than the person who snores. Living with a heavy snorer is challenging. It can be harmful – even devastating – to a relationship.

Snoring is the third leading cause of divorce in the U.S. Approximately 18% of sleep partners claim that snoring causes regular arguments in their relationship with 30% choosing to sleep in a separate room because of it.

While heavy snoring is irritating, it is often a precursor to developing sleep apnea. It is now estimated that 26% of adults between ages 30 – 70 years have sleep apnea. Common warning signs for sleep apnea include snoring and choking, gasping, or silent breathing pauses during sleep. Studies have found that sleep apnea is associated with some serious health problems, including:

  • STROKE: Sleep apnea is more common in people who have had a stroke. The risk for having a stroke increases by the severity of sleep apnea. Stroke is 3 times more likely in males who have moderate to severe sleep apnea.
  • HEART HEALTH: Sleep apnea has been shown to increase blood pressure by 37%. Sleep apnea increases the risk for coronary artery disease by 30% and cardiac arrhythmias by 54%. Moderate to severe sleep apnea increases the risk for congestive heart failure by 76%. People with sleep apnea have a 30% greater risk for heart disease as well as sudden death.
  • OBESITY RISK: Weight gain and difficulty losing weight can be attributed to sleep apnea. This is because the hormones that regulate hunger and the feeling of fullness are compromised due to sleep apnea, which leads to difficulty in losing weight. Sixty percent of obese men and 50 percent of obese women have sleep apnea. An estimated 75 percent of sleep apnea patients weigh 130% of their ideal weight.
  • MENTAL HEALTH: Untreated sleep apnea can cause anxiety, depression, lack of motivation, reduced attention span, moodiness, and poor judgement. Daytime sleepiness leads to higher incidences of motor vehicle accidents, reduced work efficiency, impaired concentration, and slow reaction time.
  • SEXUAL HEALTH: Sleep apnea contributes to a loss of libido (by decreasing blood flow).
  • GASTROINTESTINAL HEALTH: GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) occurs in 60% of people who have sleep apnea.
  • DIABETIC RISK: More than 30% of type 2 diabetics have sleep apnea.
  • BLADDER HEALTH: Sleep apnea can interfere with urinary hormone regulation, resulting in the need to urinate more frequently at night.

If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, it should be confirmed through a sleep study. This can also show the level of sleep apnea that exists. A sleep study can be arranged through your physician and may be covered by insurance.

It is estimated that a large number of true sleep apnea sufferers are undiagnosed. It is suspected that this, for some, may be due to dread of the diagnosis process. People fear this will require an overnight to a sleep center while they are hooked up to a barrage of wires and cords.

However, in cases where mild to moderate apnea is suspected, an at-home sleep study is effective for most people. These are shipped right to your home and the instructions are easy to follow. After a night’s monitoring of your sleep patterns, return shipment is easy. Results are read by qualified sleep physicians and diagnosis is provided fairly promptly.

If sleep apnea registers as either mild to moderate, the traditional method of treatment has been a CPAP device. Yet, compliance in wearing these is not high, estimated at about 22%. The complaints by those prescribed these devices are often the same: noisy, confining, inconvenient for travel, bulky, and embarrassing. Although some models are better than others at reducing these frustrations, a CPAP may be avoided altogether in many cases.

As a neuromuscular dentist, I’ve incorporated some of the most advanced technology available in dentistry to optimize proper diagnosis. If sleep apnea is revealed through your study, we can assess the most conservative treatment possible to help you regain restful sleep. This is typically done with oral appliances that are specially-designed to fit the unique contours of your mouth. They are small and comfortable.

Through oral appliance therapy, there is no noise, no inability to move comfortably in bed, no awkward machines needed for travel, easy to clean, and they pop in and out of the mouth easily. Best of all, restful sleep is restored without surgery or extended treatments.

We have had many patients who lead very different lives after using their oral appliance. However, we’ve also had some who have been fitted for an oral appliance elsewhere and failed to get sufficient results.

In neuromuscular dentistry, the complete list of influencers is considered, some which are often low considerations by dentists not specifically trained in neuromuscular dentistry. Through our computerized technology, I can carefully scrutinize the results of individual factors including bone structure, joint position/movement, muscles, bite forces, tongue and palate shape, and airway passages.

Once oral appliance therapy begins, we also work with patients during treatment to help them maximize their sleep quality. In addition to having a restored ability to breathe throughout sleep time, the temperature of the room, humidity and bed and pillow height are just some factors that can impact an ideal level of sleep. Download helpful Sleep Tips at: Sleep Tips by Dr. Barbat

If you have, or suspect you have, sleep apnea, begin by visiting:

For a private, no-charge consultation, call our Macomb County dental office at: 586-739-2155 or tap here to begin.




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Dr. Ban R. Barbat

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