Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea with Oral Appliances

Dental Sleep Masters pic
Dental Sleep Masters
Image: dentalsleepmasters.com

A graduate of the New York University College of Dentistry, Avi Weisfogel, DDS, has nearly two decades of experience in dental care. Dr. Avi Weisfogel focuses on the intersection of dentistry and sleep medicine as the owner of Dental Sleep Masters, a New Jersey-based firm dedicated to helping dentists connect with and assist patients with sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common variety of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder involving repeatedly halted breathing during sleep. It occurs due to the relaxation of throat muscles while one is sleeping. Although its most common symptom is snoring, it can also cause issues such as daytime drowsiness, headaches upon waking, and insomnia.

One potential treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is the use of a custom-fit oral appliance. The appliance somewhat resembles an athletic mouth guard and supports the patient’s jaw during sleep to help keep the upper airway open. A patient will typically receive a referral from his or her sleep specialist to see a dentist, who will then fit the patient for oral appliance therapy. There are currently over 100 FDA-approved oral appliances for obstructive sleep apnea available on the market to doctors and patients.

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Risk Factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors pic
Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
Image: sleepdisorderdentalcenter.com

As owner of Dental Sleep Masters, Dr. Avi Weisfogel draws on an in-depth knowledge of sleep apnea. Dr. Avi Weisfogel uses this information to help dentists identify potential patients and to help patients secure the treatment that they need.

Although obstructive sleep apnea can affect nearly anyone of any age, risk factors increase significantly with excess weight and age. Approximately 50 percent of patients with sleep apnea carry excess weight, a connection that may be due to the positioning of fat deposits and the risk of these deposits pressing on the airway. Fat deposits around the waist or neck may prove particularly problematic, but the disorder is by no means confined to overweight individuals.

A neck larger than 16 inches around in women or 17 inches around in men may also increase the risk of breath obstruction during sleep, as the weight of this flesh can constrict the airway. For similar reasons, risk can increase in patients with genetically narrow airways, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, or chronic nasal congestion. Data further suggests that diabetes, high blood pressure, or a history of smoking can increase risk, and men over the age of 40 are particularly susceptible.

Finally, although children are less likely than adults to develop the condition, those with chronically enlarged tonsils and those who are overweight may be at a higher risk than their peers.