Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a serious, sometimes fatal medical disorder that affects around 10% of American men over the age of 40, and 6% of American women of the same age. Sleep apnea sufferers completely stop breathing during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times in a single night. Normal breathing ceases because the airway becomes obstructed, causing a serious reduction of airflow to the lungs. Sleep apnea also leads to poor physical and cognitive performance due to lack of quality sleep.
There are a number of treatment options - surgery, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy and oral appliances that can be used to alleviate this condition. Among the treatment options, an oral appliance is the easiest to wear. The goal is to separate the jaws and push them forward slightly. This slight repositioning expands the space behind the tongue to open up the airway and allow oxygen to flow freely again.
If you have questions or concerns about sleep apnea appliances, please ask your dentist.