OSA is a breathing disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep due to a blockage in the airway. The most common causes of airway blockage include throat muscles, tongue, tonsils, or soft palate falling back into the throat. The blockage suffocates the person at rest.
OSA is typically diagnosed using a polysomnogram or “sleep study.” During a sleep study, a sleep physician monitors brain activity and body system functioning while a patient rests overnight at a sleep clinic. The sleep physician evaluates the data collected during the sleep study to diagnose sleep disorders and recommend treatment. A dentist trained in sleep medicine works together with sleep physicians to treat obstructive sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy.
How can an oral appliance treat snoring & breathing?
Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea can be treated with surgery, CPAP or BiPAP machines, or oral appliance therapy. Oral appliance therapy is the least invasive treatment and the first choice of treatment for mild to moderate OSA. It involves the selection, fitting, and use of an appliance to hold the jaw forward and maintain an open airway in the throat during sleep.
Click on the image below to see an animation showing how obstructive sleep apnea occurs.