At J.W. Clark Dental Studio, we believe in educating patients about their sleep apnea treatment options.

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious sleep breathing disorder featuring episodes of hypopnea and apnea. Hypopnea is at least a 30% reduction in airflow with more than a 3% reduction in blood oxygen saturation. Apnea is a 90% reduction in airflow for 10 or more seconds despite an effort to breathe.

One in five adults have obstructive sleep apnea. There are between 18 million and 30 million undiagnosed cases in the United States. It is more prevalent than diabetes or asthma. Almost 90% of patients are undiagnosed, untreated and at serious risk.

People suffering from obstructive sleep apnea often tell themselves they’re doing just fine. In fact, many times they’re not. Studies have shown that after suffering poor sleep associated with the condition, reaction times equivalent to a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.10 are common. That’s 25% over the legal limit to safely drive!

"One in five adults have obstructive sleep apnea. There are between 18 million and 30 million undiagnosed cases in the United States."

Here’s the reality: Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially deadly condition. People with OSA are more than twice as likely to have a myocardial infarction (MI) than heavy smokers. If left untreated, it substantially increases your risks for hypertension, stroke, diabetes, heart failure, and depression.

What are the signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea?

The hallmark sign is snoring which is caused by tissue vibrating as air passes through a narrow, collapsible airway. You or your partner may also notice excessive daytime sleepiness, pauses in breath while sleeping, increased depression or irritability, and sexual dysfunction.

In addition to a reduction in risk factors including excessive sleepiness, people who treat their obstructive sleep apnea report enhanced learning capabilities, improved immune function, better memory, and improved quality of life.

How is obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed?

Many people who come to us already have a confirmed diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. If you have not been assessed, we will help you through that process.

First, we will complete an initial screening called an Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) to determine your overall risk for OSA. If indicated, we will order a sleep study test called polysomnography (PSG) from a local board-certified sleep physician who will interpret your results.

The test is multi-parametric measuring blood oxygen saturation, position, EEG, heart rate (and heart rate variability), respiratory rate, muscle movement, and eye movements. The results are called a polysomnogram. There is a technician present to help you during the test. These are the kinds of sleep studies we strongly prefer.

If you qualify based on your sleep study results, your sleep physician (or your personal physician) can prescribe the right sleep apnea treatment for you based on their assessment and the severity of your test results.

How is obstructive sleep apnea treated?

CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is the standard of care for most people with severe obstructive sleep apnea. When well tolerated by the patient and used nightly, CPAP is the best treatment option available.

Unfortunately some people who use CPAP report feeling claustrophobic while using the bulky mask and tight, uncomfortable head strap. Others have difficulty sleeping with the machine running all night, or report nasal congestion and skin irritation.

Some people who travel a lot have difficulty lugging their machine around from place to place or report embarrassment or a reduction in intimacy with their partner. Others complain that their CPAP hose begins to develop an unpleasant odor and is difficult to keep sanitized. All of these factors together affect how much people use their CPAP machine.

CPAP compliance overall is estimated to be about 50% at the two year mark. That means, for whatever reason, about half of CPAP users aren’t able to continue using it on a long-term basis.

If CPAP doesn’t work, what are the alternatives?

So many patients come to us frustrated by their CPAP and are interested in exploring other options. There are two options if CPAP fails: surgery or an oral sleep appliance.

Surgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). The procedure involves permanently cutting excess tissue out of a patient’s airway. While it has a 30-50% success rate, it comes with significant risks including swelling, scarring, along with damage to teeth, nerves and surrounding tissues. Other complications include infection, bleeding, permanent numbness, and changes in your bite.

Oral sleep appliances are simple devices that create an open airway by stabilizing and moving the jaw slightly forward into the most optimal position for quiet, comfortable sleep. They are FDA-approved, portable, silent, easy to clean and hygienic.

Many physicians are now prescribing oral sleep appliances as first-line therapy for mild obstructive sleep apnea because they recognize that long-term CPAP compliance is poor. In fact, even for moderate OSA, oral sleep appliances should be offered to patients because they both work. For patients with severe OSA, however, CPAP should be tried first. Your sleep study results will determine which treatment options are likely to be most effective for you.

Which oral sleep appliance does J.W. Clark Dental Studio recommend?

We use ProSomnus devices as we feel they are the best available on the market. Here’s why:

Effective

ProSomnus devices were used to successfully treat 100% of mild and 86% of moderate obstructive sleep apnea patients, according to a recent study.

Comfortable

When we fit you with a ProSomnus oral sleep appliance, we use state-of-the-art equipment to create digital impressions. This results in a much more comfortable fit that won’t irritate the mouth.

Affordable

We work with Medicare or your insurance company to get you the benefits you’re entitled to. This means you may have very little out-of-pocket cost for your oral sleep appliance.

Fast

Due to ProSomnus’s precision CAD/CAM milling techniques, we’re able to get you your device three times faster than with other devices.

Safe

The ProSomnus device uses highly biologically-compatible acrylic and is safe to use, contains no metal parts, and is BPA-free.

Size

The ProSomnus device is 30% smaller than other devices on the market, making it much less bulky and more comfortable to wear.

Adaptable

We can fit an oral sleep appliance easily for most patients, even if you have other dental problems or no longer have your own teeth.

Warranty

ProSomnus features an industry-leading three year warranty covering 100% of workmanship and materials. We digitally store your impressions so a new appliance can be made instantly without the inconvenience of a return visit.

If you think you might benefit from an oral sleep appliance, please give us a call to make an appointment for a free evaluation.