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Snoring & Sleep Apnea

Madison Family Dental on Dental Appliances for Treatment of Snoring and Sleep Apnea Disorder

Dr. Alanna Wirtz and Amber were great, as always! This was not a dental appointment. but, rather, a follow-up after two months to my starting to use a Somnodent dental device for my sleep apnea. They understand well sleep apnea and how the device works and is helping to improve my condition. They checked out my teeth, too, to be sure that the device isn’t unacceptably affecting or moving my teeth around.  ~Karen

How Is America’s Sleep?

Sleep deprivation might not sound that bad once in a while, but it’s actually a serious problem that many people suffer from. On average, Americans get between six and eight hours of sleep a night.  Some feel wonderful with five or less hours, whereas others always have the need to sleep 9 or more daily.

Unfortunately, sleep apnea greatly inhibits a person’s capability to sleep throughout the night, and can cause extreme sleep deprivation. At least 75% of adults have reported at least one sleep apnea related symptom, and almost 25% of people sleep in separate rooms due to their partner’s sleep habits, causing them to lose nearly 50 minutes of sleep each night.

Sleep Apnea Transcription

“Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects a patient’s ability to get oxygen in while they’re sleeping. There are three different types of sleep apnea — the one that we focus on here at Madison Family Dental is obstructive sleep apnea. The tongue is the thing that causes the obstruction. Usually, the tongue will fall back in a patient’s mouth, and that will limit their amount of air that they can get while they’re sleeping.

Sleep apnea does affect both men and women, it is more common in men, and it also becomes more common once we get over the age of 65 — but we see patients at any age, at any time in their life when they do have sleep apnea.

Usually how we find or how the patients actually come to us is that they will first complain about snoring, and whenever somebody comes in and has an issue with snoring, we always have them see their medical doctor to get tested for sleep apnea. The reason behind that is 62% of people who snore will actually also have sleep apnea. So, we want to make sure we are treating the patient correctly.

The process that usually occurs is the patient will then contact their medical doctor. They will typically then get a referral to have a sleep study done. The nice thing now is that usually people can have their sleep study done at their own house — they have a little kit where they put on some leads, they sleep at night, and then they return the kit. Then the doctor will determine what type of sleep apnea, if they do have sleep apnea.

We do need a referral from the doctor in order to treat the patient because the doctor will need to make the diagnosis. But once [we have] the referral and once we know the diagnosis, then we can treat sleep apnea — or if it is just snoring we actually can treat the snoring part of it, too.

The appliance that we typically use is the Somnodent. It is a very simple easy appliance to wear. We basically make almost like an occlusal guard that goes over the top of the bottom teeth, and then there is a little device over here that you slowly turn about twice a week and it causes the lower jaw to be pushed forward.

There’s not a set amount of movement that you need, it’s basically patient dependent. The more severe your sleep apnea is, the further you need to move your jaw forward. Once we move the jaw forward, that gives us more space for the tongue in that it is what opens up the airway to allow a patient to sleep better.

Some other signs besides just snoring that people will feel when they have sleep apnea: they’ll feel very tired, especially during the day, if somebody feels they need to take naps every day — that’s another sign they may not be sleeping well at night.

If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause a lot of issues. One would be high blood pressure — it can actually lead to some other medical conditions if left untreated, so it is really important to treat it.

Depending, again, on the severity of sleep apnea, if somebody has moderate or severe sleep apnea, once we feel the device is working as well as it should be, we then have the patient do another follow-up sleep study with the device in to make sure that they are getting the appropriate amount of oxygen while they’re sleeping.

I’ve been doing this for probably close to 12 years now — it is a really rewarding part of my practice just to actually have people come back and just feel so much better every day of their life. It’s a very simple appliance to wear, and it’s very easy to get used to wearing.”

There are many side effects of sleep deprivation that are quite dangerous, which include:

  • extreme drowsiness
  • muscle aches and fatigue
  • confusion and/or memory lapses
  • headaches and migraines
  • hallucinations
  • hand tremors
  • depression

Patients with sleep apnea are three times more likely than general population to get into a motor vehicle accident, as 60% of adults still drive even while drowsy.

Snoring, which is a large side effect of sleep apnea, will have negative effects on those who sleep in the same or surrounding rooms.  Spouses actually reported increased pain complaints and a reduced quality of life which significantly increased when snoring was treated.  Those who report snoring should have a sleep study conducted, as they have a much greater chance of having sleep apnea than those who don’t snore.

Snoring. So. Loud.

Loud snoring and sleep issues are not a healthy combination. Whether caused by snoring, being woken up by someone who’s snoring, or problems with sleep apnea, nights of missed sleep can build into a sleep deficit over time. People with a sleep deficit are unable to concentrate, study, and work effectively. They can also experience emotional problems like depression.

Here are some dental appliance options available for better sleep at Madison Family Dental.

Silent Nite Snore Guard

The Silent Nite prevents snoring by opening the airway to make breathing easier. It works by moving the lower jaw into a more forward position. The Silent Nite is custom made from casts of your teeth and will therefore fit better than an over-the-counter anti-snoring device. If snoring is keeping you or a loved one up at night, this type of appliance may be beneficial.

Sleep Apnea is a Sleeping Disorder and Should Be Taken Very Seriously

Sleep apnea is a severe sleeping disorder where the patient may or may not be aware of it. It is a condition where a person is unable to attain deep sleep because his or her sleep is interrupted in short intervals. A patient suffering from sleep apnea may experience pauses in breathing while asleep. He or she will find it hard to breathe for almost ten seconds at a time when oxygen levels to the brain are obstructed. At this point the patient moves from deep sleep and is partially awakened, gasping for breath.

This is primarily due to the blockage of airflow when the tongue drops back and obstructs the upper airway located at the back of the throat. The blockage causes disruption in the flow of oxygen that passes through from both the mouth and the nose into the lungs. The patient may not be aware of this problem, and it can take place up to 50 times an hour, making them feel tired the next day. Large tonsils and weight gain also makes it difficult for the throat to stay open. This causes reduced oxygen supply to the brain and heart and may lead to heart disease, brain damage, high blood pressure, and even sudden death.

Even though the patient may have been suffering from sleep apnea for years, it is likely that he or she is unaware of the seriousness of the disease. The patient is likely to become accustomed to daytime tiredness and may consider it quite normal. Sleep apnea also causes nasal congestion, nasal irritation and dryness, claustrophobia, and difficulty falling back to sleep. It is important to understand the seriousness of this disease — sleep apnea should not be treated lightly.

Sleep Apnea TAP® Appliance

Sleep apnea oral appliances are custom-fitted by your Madison Family dentist to help patients sleep soundly by minimizing effects of sleep apnea like snoring.  These FDA-approved devices treat sleep apnea by preventing airway obstruction and allowing the patient to breathe easily and continuously.

What do the appliances look like? Pictured Below. The TAP® and SomnoDent® appliances hold the lower jaw in a forward position so that is does not shift nor fall open during the night.  This prevents the airway from collapsing. Studies have shown the oral appliance is an effective first-line therapy for mild to moderate sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea SomnoDent®

Sleep apnea SomnoDent® oral appliances are custom-fit by your Madison Family dentist to help the patient sleep soundly and minimize the effects of sleep apnea, like snoring. SomnoDent® is worn during sleep to increase the upper airway volume and reduce collapsibility. SomnoDent® Flex& Classic devices each utilize a unique fin coupling component, maximizing patient comfort and compliance.

SomnoDent G2 

SomnoDent G2 provides patients with an easy to use modular titration system, which allows instant and accurate measurement. Patients will experience the ultimate comfort as the device has a smaller coupling mechanism, is slim-line and more posteriorly located.

SomnoDentFlex (not pictured)

Made from our unique SMH BFlex material and acrylic that provides superior retention and comfort. SMH BFlex is a soft polymer that is heat-cured, packed and pressed utilizing an exclusive chemical formula that facilitates soft to hard polymer bonding at the layers interface. The result is a fit that is unmatched and unlike anything seen before in a resilient material, securely anchoring appliance with a snug fit – even on short teeth with little under cut. With an expected life of 3-5 years, it is suitable for all dentitions. SMH BFlex does not discolor or attract odors. Patients and dentists may prefer this model, particularly where crown and bridgework is present.

SomnoDent Classic

The original SomnoDent, made from the highest quality acrylic that will not discolor, the Classic has been specifically designed to offer solidity, comfort and quality. The Classic is retained using ball clasps and has a life expectancy of 3-5 years.

SomnoDent Herbst®

The SomnoDent Herbst® is an intra oral medical device used for treating snoring and mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. The advancement mechanism comes standard in telescopic design. This mechanism allows the mandible to be easily advanced in increments of less than one millimeter. The Somno Dent Herbst is also available in shim design upon request.

The SomnoDent Herbst Flex option offers added comfort and retention through its proprietary soft polymer SMH BFlex material, providing superior retention and unmatched comfort.

Optional Features:

  • Anterior Opening
  • Upper Edentulous
  • Flexi close (elastic hooks)
  • Lingual-Less
  • Vertical Adjustment
TAP Appliance, SomnoDent Classic, SomnoDent G2, SomnoDent Herbst®

TAP Appliance, SomnoDent Classic, SomnoDent G2, SomnoDent Herbst®

Commonly Asked Questions About Sleep Apnea

What is sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway completely collapses, blocking airflow into the lungs. The harder someone tries to breathe, the tighter the airway seals. This airway obstruction persists until the brain partially awakens the person. Unconsciously, he or she will close the jaw, returning the tongue and throat to a normal position. The sleep apnea cycle – falling asleep, jaw relaxing, airway collapsing, unconsciously awakening with a gasp, falling back asleep – can repeat itself one time per minute in severe cases. With a blocked air passage, an individual cannot receive enough oxygen. Both the awakenings and oxygen deprivation can then trigger other health problems.

What is snoring?

When the jaw opens and the tongue falls into the back of the throat, the airway narrows, forcing air through the smaller opening. This creates vibrations in the throat known as snoring.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

  • Snoring with pauses in breathing (apnea)
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Problem with mental function
  • Poor judgment/can’t focus
  • Memory loss
  • Quick to anger
  • High blood pressure
  • Nighttime chest pain
  • Depression
  • Problem with excess weight
  • Large neck (>17″ around in men, >16″ around in women)
  • Airway crowding
  • Morning headaches
  • Reduced libido
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom at night

If I snore, do I have sleep apnea?

Not all people who snore have sleep apnea, and not all sleep apnea sufferers snore.

What are the dangers of sleep apnea?

Some of the dangers of sleep apnea are chronic sleepiness, strokes, heart attacks, heartburn, morning headaches, depression, high blood pressure, and impotence.

What is your snore score?

Your answers to this quiz will help you decide whether you may suffer from sleep apnea:

  1. Are you a loud and/or regular snorer?
  2. Have you ever been observed to gasp or stop breathing during sleep?
  3. Do you feel tired or groggy upon awakening, or do you awaken with a headache?
  4. Are you often tired or fatigued during the wake time hours?
  5. Do you fall asleep sitting, reading, watching TV, or driving?
  6. Do you often have problems with memory or concentration?

If you have one or more of these symptoms you are at higher risk for having obstructive sleep apnea.

Source: American Sleep Apnea Association

How to stop snoring?

Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, there are plenty of reasons to tackle a snoring problem. For one, it can get in the way of your bed partner’s rest — and a sleep-deprived partner is not a happy one! It can also affect your own sleep quality and health. The good news? There are plenty of tips and treatments that can help. Read: How to Stop Snoring: Cures, Remedies, and Tips for You and Your Partner.

Will this appliance be covered by insurance?

If you carry Physicians Plus medical insurance, yes this appliance is covered. Madison Family Dental is a exclusive provider for Physicians Plus. If it is not covered by medical insurance, your FLEX Spending account may cover it. To find out more, please contact your insurance company directly.

Please request an appointment online for a dental treatment consultation with one of our dental professionals.




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