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Treating Snoring and Sleep Apnea

By Larry Pribyl, D.D.S.

Treating Snoring and Sleep ApneaMaintaining regular breathing during sleep is a problem for over 20 million Americans. As a result, they do not receive the necessary amount of oxygen their body needs to rejuvenate from proper, restful sleep. Moderate to severe levels of snoring may really be Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) — also referred to as “sleep disordered breathing.” Sleep apnea is associated with cardiovascular disease, daytime sleepiness and even increased mortality. Sleep related accidents of all types including motor vehicles has been said to average over $50 billion per year. Dr. Pribyl is a qualified sleep dentist who uses cost-effective sleep screening tools to determine the effectiveness of an oral appliance to manage sleep apnea and snoring.

The Cause(s)
Snoring is a noise that is produced by a vibration of the soft palate and sides of the throat when air rushes against them. The sound occurs when the airway is narrow or collapses and the muscles fail to maintain their normal function. Factors include: fat deposits in the throat, large tonsils or a long soft palate or uvula (the protrusion in the back of the throat). It is important to know that people who snore may be experiencing the first sign of OSA.

How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?
If you experience the following symptoms, you may have a problem: daytime sleepiness, dry mouth and throat, morning headaches, memory loss, irritability, anxiety or depression, inability to concentrate, reduced sex drive. More serious symptoms include high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems.

The Epworth Sleepiness Test is one method you can use to confirm your lack of restful sleep. Go to our website to take the test online and get your results: www.tmjsleepapnea.com.

Pharyngometry and Rhinometry
During a consult in Dr. Pribyl’s office, two tests are used to assess both the oral and nasal airway extending into the throat area. The Eccovision® Pharyngometer/Rhinometer is the first accurate, non-invasive, yet cost-effective screening technique to identify patients at risk for OSA. During the test, the patient is asked to breathe into a tube. Sound waves travel through the mouth into the throat area and are then reflected back and measured. The equipment uses a computer to record the information in the form of a graph that is then interpreted by Dr. Pribyl. The patient is awake and alert at all times. This initial screening can be accomplished in as little as five minutes. The results give Dr. Pribyl a three dimensional view of the pharyngeal (throat) and nasal airway using sound waves much like sonar on a submarine. Dr. Pribyl can also determine if a patient has a narrow airway and/or collapsible airway which are indicators of sleep apnea. He will also be able to determine if a patient’s lower jaw responds positively to vertical and/or forward positioning and to evaluate whether the nasal airway is blocked by mucous and/or structural damage since this can be part of the noise of snoring.

An Oral Sleep Appliance
to Manage Sleep Apnea
The measurements we use will allow the proper sleep orthotic (sleep appliance) to be constructed for the patient to wear. The appliance is designed to increase the airway when sleeping to deter or eliminate snoring and assist with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Determining jaw position and airway opening are the keys to managing these conditions. Many patients are able to reduce or quit using their CPAP machine altogether.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Pribyl for a Sleep Apnea consult, please call our office at 816-795-1000, or visit us online at www.tmjsleepapnea.com.

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