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Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous disorder with fairly benign symptoms. Symptoms can include loud snoring at night, morning headaches or daytime bouts of sleepiness. This is caused by intermittent periods throughout sleep when you actually stop breathing.

Breathing cessation, or apnea, lasts from seconds to nearly a minute. During sleep apnea, the upper air passages in the mouth and throat are obstructed. When breathing resumes, the brain senses lack of oxygen and wakes you up. The snoring is loud, sometimes explosive. The lack of deep, relaxing sleep can leave one drowsy and irritable during the day.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. Sleep apnea has been associated with GERD, stroke, cardiac disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Excessive tiredness caused by sleep apnea can also lead to problems at work or school, as well as danger when driving. Sleep specialists offer a complete evaluation for treatment of sleep apnea or snoring.

Treatment of Sleep Apnea and Snoring

Treatments range widely and depend upon the severity of the problem and the type of apnea. Three common treatments:

1. Behavior modification. Sometimes treatment involves lifestyle changes such as weight loss, smoking cessation or altering the position in which you sleep.

2. CPAP Therapy. Many patients are prescribed CPAP, a mask that is placed on your face and maintains air pressure to prevent apnea.

3. Oral Appliance Therapy. Oral devices, made in our dental office, can help position the mouth in a way that helps prevent snoring and sleep apnea. Oral appliance therapy devices look like acrylic mouth guards or orthodontic retainers. These dental mouthpieces can also benefit the people who do not do well with CPAP treatment.

Depending on your situation, your treatment may involve a custom-made oral sleep device.

Insurance Coverage for Sleep Apnea

Medical insurance plans cover treatment of sleep apnea. Our office can often bill your medical plan for any services related to sleep apnea. Please call with questions that you may have.

Dr. Althoff and Dental Sleep Medicine

Dr. Althoff has had many hours of additional training from leaders in the treatment of sleep apnea. She is experienced in the use of several types of oral appliances and works closely with sleep specialists in the area.

For more information regarding Oral Appliance Therapy (snore guards) in the treatment of sleep apnea, please call Southpointe Dental.