Struggling with Sleep Apnea?

Are you or a loved one struggling with a CPAP to treat obstructive sleep apnea?

The sad truth is that many people who have had CPAP therapy prescribed to treat their obstructive sleep apnea are unable or unwilling to wear their CPAP every night for their entire length of sleep. While some patients are very compliant and use their CPAP faithfully every night as prescribed, there is research that suggests that non-tolerance/non-compliance with CPAP is over 80%. Once prescribed, there is usually little follow-up for these patients and like Supreme Court Justice Scalia, many will die in their sleep with their unused CPAP on the night stand or in the bedroom closet.

Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is becoming the primary treatment for mild and moderate obstructive sleep apnea when patient preference is taken into consideration. When effectiveness is coupled with actual compliance, the true effectiveness of oral appliances meets or exceeds the effectiveness of CPAP therapy.

There are over 100 FDA-approved custom made oral appliances for obstructive sleep apnea and both Medicare and standard medical insurance plans cover oral appliance therapy performed by a qualified sleep dentist.

Oral appliances need to be both custom-made and adjustable by the treating dentist over a series of visits with a home sleep test administered after 3-4 months treatment to validate effectiveness.

It is important to make sure the dentist is qualified to treat obstructive sleep apnea in that they have one of the following designations:

Sleep-Qualified Dentist of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine
Fellow or Diplomate of the Academy of Clinical Sleep Disorders Disciplines

OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) is found in over 92% of stroke patients and may be a primary cause of A-fib. Treating your obstructive sleep apnea can play an important role in the prevention of cardiac deaths and strokes.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with A-fib, stroke, recent onset high blood pressure or congestive heart failure and have not yet had a sleep study, it is important to request your physician order one right away.

Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Terry M. Gordon, DDS – Dental Director of PA Center for Dental Sleep Medicine and Sleep-Qualified Dentist of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, Pennsylvania Center for Dental Sleep Medicine.