Sleep Apnea Treatment

How Can Sleep Apnea Be Treated?

Several treatment options exist for dealing with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). These include positive pressure therapy, surgical options, and oral appliances.

CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) forces air through a tube into a mask that the person wears. This uses positive air pressure to keep the airway from collapsing. The CPAP machine is the most common positive pressure device.

Several surgical procedures may be used for the treatment of OSA. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is the most common surgical procedure for treating OSA. This involves removing the uvula and some of the surrounding soft palate. UPPP adequately reduces OSA approximately 30-40% of the time.

Oral appliances can also be used in the treatment of OSA. One commonly used device is the Elastic Mandibular Advancement appliance (EMA). This is custom made from dental impressions. The appliance fits over the upper and lower teeth and uses bands of varying length and elasticity which act to pull the lower jaw forward. This forward position of the lower jaw causes a forward movement of the tongue reopening the airway and allowing air to flow through the back of the throat.

What Treatment Is Best For Me?

The first step is to have an evaluation by a medical doctor certified in sleep medicine. A sleep study may be indicated to evaluate the type and severity of the sleep disorder. Most medical insurance companies require that a sleep study be completed before coverage for treatment can be determined and/or approved.

After you have completed the sleep study and your sleep physician agrees that the best course of treatment for you would be an oral appliance, we will then evaluate you using digital x-rays (low level radiation) and pharyngometry (sonar) to determine the amount of lower jaw advancement necessary to open the airway and prevent collapse. Once this has been established, the oral appliance can be custom-made be a dental laboratory which specializes in these types of devices.

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