(Courtesy of Stamford Smiles) According to the American Sleep Association, 25 million adults in the United States have obstructive sleep apnea. Estimates are that 9 percent to 21 percent of women, and 24 percent to 31 percent of men suffer from this sleeping disorder. Although it’s more common in people over the age of 40, it’s not just adults who are affected. Healthy children and young adults also can be afflicted with sleep apnea, and are being diagnosed now more than ever before.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is defined as a complete cessation of breathing during sleep lasting 10 seconds or greater. Dr. Jeffrey Cahn, a leading dentist in the field, advises patients not to overlook the effects of sleep apnea. Many people shrug off the annoying snoring or mild tiredness during the day, but what many people don’t know is that obstructive sleep apnea is actually severely detrimental to health. There can be serious consequences to a person who stops breathing, even for a short period of time.
Effects of Sleep Apnea
If left untreated, sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition that can increase the risk of serious health problems, including congestive heart failure, stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease. Diabetes, obesity, depression and impotence are also side effects that can occur in individuals suffering from sleep apnea.
Sleep deficits caused by sleep apnea can lead to daytime drowsiness and decreased work efficiency, with 37.9 percent of adults who suffer from sleep apnea reporting unintentionally falling asleep during the day and 4.7 percent of adults reporting nodding off or falling asleep while driving at least once in the preceding month.
For many years, sleep apnea has been treated with CPAP machines (Continuous Positive Air Pressure), which require that an individual wear a mask over the mouth and/or nose connected to a machine. While CPAP is very effective, up to 50 percent of sleep apnea patients do not use or tolerate CPAP well, according to a American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine study.
Many who use CPAP machines consider them to be bulky and inconvenient, noisy and uncomfortable to sleep with and embarrassing to use. Plus, traveling with a CPAP machine is a challenge and wearing the device makes it hard to get up in the middle of the night to get water or use the restroom. All of these things make it even harder to sleep. The point of treating obstructive sleep apnea is to get better sleep, not worse, making CPAP masks an unpopular choice for treatment.
Dr. Jeffrey Cahn—who has been providing high-quality dental services to the Stamford, Connecticut, community since 1984—now offers an alternative. A new and better way to treat obstructive sleep apnea: Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT). Oral Appliance Therapy treatment utilizes custom-designed oral appliances to control obstructive sleep apnea.
How Oral Appliance Therapy Works
OAT involves the selection, design, fitting and use of an oral appliance worn during sleep. These oral appliances treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, and are similar to orthodontic retainers or sports mouth guards. They function by keeping the lower jaw and tongue from falling back during sleep to maintain an open and unobstructed airway.
Said one user, “It changed my life. Not only do I feel better during the day, but my wife can sleep better now that the snoring is gone.”
For many, oral appliance devices are more comfortable than CPAP masks, and research suggests that OAT offers a higher patient compliance rate than CPAP. The devices are also quiet, portable, easy to manage and clean and come in more than 80 different styles, all of which have received FDA approval.
Best of all, Oral Appliance Therapy is covered by medical insurance and Medicare, so it is an accessible treatment for everyone.
Why Choose Dr. Jeffrey Cahn
But it’s not only the sleep apnea treatment that matters—it’s also the doctor behind your care. As a diplomate of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, Dr. Cahn is one of only a few dental sleep specialists in Stamford and Fairfield County. His dental facility is certified by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, making it the only facility in the area with this high level of certification.
Dr. Cahn works closely with pulmonologists who, by use of sleep studies, diagnose obstructive sleep apnea and characterize its severity. If you are diagnosed, Dr. Cahn will determine if you are a candidate for OAT and which appliance will work best for your specific situation. He will then make custom-fit, comfortable oral appliances that can greatly reduce or eliminate apnea and snoring.
What are Dr. Cahn’s patients saying about his Oral Appliance Therapy? Carol explains her experience using OAT vs. CPAP:
“I just can’t believe this oral appliance device I’m using for my sleep apnea. I had been using a CPAP for a year and a half, and it was so high-maintenance. I’d get up in the morning to get ready for work and I didn’t want to take care of the machine maintenance and then take care of myself to get to work. I went over to Dr. Cahn’s office and got the Oral Appliance Therapy device, and my sleep was just absolutely delicious. It was so deep and I hadn’t had deep sleep like this in ages. And it’s so portable. The CPAP is a machine that’s cumbersome to carry around, but the oral appliance is just a small thing that fits in your pocket that you can carry it around easily anytime. I highly recommend it.”
In addition to his status as a Diplomate in the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), Jeffrey Cahn, DMD, recently received accreditation of his office from the AADSM, joining an elite group of centers around the nation recognized for proficiency, professionalism and procedural excellence regarding the treatment of patients with sleep apnea and sleep-disordered breathing. The Office of Jeffrey Cahn, DMD, is the only accredited facility in lower Fairfield and Westchester County. The AADSM is the nonprofit national professional society dedicated exclusively to the practice of dental sleep medicine.
Dental sleep medicine focuses on the management of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea through the use of Oral Appliance Therapy—an effective alternative treatment for patients who prefer it to CPAP. Once a patient is diagnosed with OSA by a board-certified sleep physician, a dentist trained in dental sleep medicine can provide treatment with oral appliance therapy.
Do you think you have sleep apnea? For more information and to schedule an appointment with Dr. Cahn for a dental exam today, visit his website.