Is there such a thing as a cure for sleep apnea? This is a common question that patients ask. The answer is straightforward: there are treatments available, but no cure. The treatments, however, can effectively reduce the deleterious effects of the sleepless nights and the lack of oxygen caused by an obstructed airway. The key is finding the right sleep apnea treatment for each patient. At the dental practice of Dr. Edward Shukovsky, we work closely with patients to significantly improve their condition, and hence, their quality of life. To learn more about sleep apnea treatment, or to schedule a consultation, contact our dental office today.
Sleep Health Survey
Are you extremely tired during the day despite getting enough rest? Do you think snoring might be interrupting your sleep? If you’re concerned about sleep apnea but not ready to sign up for a sleep study, we invite you to take a brief sleep health survey. The survey will be sent to Dr. Shukovsky, and if you contact the office to make an appointment, he can reference your information.
Lifestyle Sleep Apnea Treatments
In all cases, a sleep study must first be carried out in either the hospital, a sleep center, or at home with a special monitor. This preliminary testing is necessary so that we can identify the degree of sleep apnea. It is also imperative that a sleep study be conducted post-treatment so the effectiveness of the treatment can be assessed.
Losing Weight and Sleep Apnea
Sometimes the treatment for sleep apnea is as simple as losing weight. When a person gains weight, they gain weight everywhere, even the soft tissues of the palate. Additionally, the neck increases in size and the pharyngeal tissues enlarge. So when the patient is sleeping, these puffed up tissues are more likely to block or obstruct the airway causing apnea. However, for many people, losing weight is not that simple. And, there is evidence that a lack of sleep and apnea make it even harder to lose weight.
Smoking and Sleep Apnea
Yep, just another reason to quit smoking! It’s not difficult to make the connection of an impaired lung capacity and a slightly reduced airway resulting in a reduced amount of oxygen in the bloodstream.
Alcohol and Sleep Apnea
Here is the myth: drinking will help me sleep. Actually, drinking disrupts the sleep patterns, so if you want to get a better night sleep, do not drink just before going to sleep. That nightcap may actually reduce your chances of sleeping soundly. Alcohol decreases the muscle tone of the soft palate thereby causing a decrease in airway as the soft palate falls back. And it is a similar thing for eating, which is why you should wait a few hours after eating before you go to sleep.
Medical Sleep Apnea Treatments
The above are lifestyle changes to improve the quality of sleep and reduce sleep apnea. The medical treatments for sleep apnea include surgery and CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure).
Surgery for Sleep Apnea
Surgery is rarely a recommended cure. There are a number of different types of surgeries for sleep apnea, which vary in degree of effectiveness. In fact, it is not unusual for a patient to go through multiple surgeries without effective results. Some of these surgeries involve the nose and the nasal septum and others involve the soft palate, tonsils, and the pharyngeal curtains. We often see a reduction in the apnea from these surgeries, but hardly a cure.
Currently, there is a much publicized treatment called the Pillar Technique, which implants rods within the soft palate. The problem here is that the soft palate may not be the only contributing factor to the apnea/snoring – it could be the size of the tongue, size of the intraoral space, or a nasal problem. Additionally, the pillars do not hold the soft palate in position forever and the procedure needs to be repeated to remain effective.
CPAP for Sleep Apnea
The CPAP is the medical gold standard for treatment of sleep apnea. The problem here is compliance – patients don’t like it. Wearing a mask to sleep is not the most comfortable thing and it is hard to be attractive to one’s bed partner while wearing the CPAP.
Oral Appliance for Sleep Apnea
The oral appliance falls within the domain of those specially-trained in dental sleep medicine, and is effective in treating severe, moderate, and mild sleep apnea. As with all sleep apnea treatments, a sleep study is necessary first.
There are many different types of oral appliances, all of which do the same thing; they move the jaw slightly forward and keep the airway open during sleep. The main advantage over the CPAP is patient comfort – there are no wires, tubing, or machines, and no air being forced into the airway. The oral appliance is our preferred treatment method and one that we can administer at our dental office. If you suffer from sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with our team to learn more.
Learn More about Sleep Apnea Treatment, Contact Us
Dr. Edward Shukovsky is a member of the AADSM and would be happy to help you improve your health and sleep. Contact the office of Dr. Shukovsky today to learn more about sleep apnea or to schedule a consultation.