Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
The biggest challenge in treating sleep apnea is that 80% or more of people with the condition don’t know they have it. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, and if you have them, talk to your doctor or a sleep dentist about getting a sleep test.
Although there are many quizzes and screening tools, an overnight sleep study is the only way to successfully diagnose the condition. In the past, you had to go to a sleep lab to be tested for sleep apnea. Now, though, many people can get a sleep study in the comfort of their own homes. Minneapolis sleep dentist Dr. Bril can coordinate your sleep study, helping you get an at-home sleep study if you’re a candidate.
Home Care for Sleep Apnea
Home care is not recommended as a standalone treatment. Sleep apnea has dangerous health consequences–too dangerous to risk with home care techniques that won’t provide adequate results. However, home care, in conjunction with other treatments, can help patients get better results.
Many people can reduce the severity of their sleep apnea by:
- Changing sleeping position
- Increasing exercise
- Reducing alcohol consumption at night
- Losing weight
- Avoiding allergens
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form. It occurs when your airway collapses while you sleep, cutting off your air supply. Changing your sleeping position–especially onto your side if you are normally a back sleeper–can reduce the risk that your airway will collapse.
Your muscles do the hard work of holding your airway open at night. Improving muscle tone will help them keep it open at night. You don’t need to do specific airway exercises to see benefits, but they can also help.
Alcohol also makes it hard for your muscles to keep your airway open. It’s a muscle relaxant, so you should avoid alcohol near bedtime. It might help you fall asleep, but it will lead to worse sleep and less rest.
Carrying additional weight can increase the risk of airway obstruction. Fat deposits in the throat can narrow your airway, and having more weight in the throat area can increase the risk it will collapse. Losing weight will help, but it can be had because sleep apnea alters your metabolism, increasing the risk of weight gain.
Allergens can trigger swelling in your airway, making it more likely to collapse. Make sure your home air system (central heat, AC, etc.) is clean and not spreading allergens around. Also, avoid foods you are allergic to. Even mild allergies can impact your sleep.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment for OSA. It’s considered a frontline, standalone treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea and a CPAP alternative for severe sleep apnea.
Your jaw is the main bony support for your throat tissues. An oral appliance uses this to keep your airway open by repositioning your jaw. Putting your jaw in a healthier position helps you breathe all night.
Studies show that oral appliance therapy is as effective as CPAP for many people. In addition, it’s comfortable, convenient, easy to transport, and easy to care for.
Oral appliance therapy can save you money. In addition to the savings from treating sleep apnea, insurance covers oral appliance therapy. The lifetime cost of ownership of oral appliance therapy is a fraction of what CPAP will cost you.
Don’t be taken in by over-the-counter oral appliances that might imply they help with sleep apnea. It takes a custom appliance by a Minneapolis sleep dentist to successfully treat sleep apnea.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most commonly prescribed treatment. It’s considered the gold standard of treatment because, when properly used, it’s almost 100% effective. It even works on central sleep apnea.
However, many people have trouble adapting to CPAP. People find it uncomfortable to wear and difficult to care for. For people with severe OSA, it’s the only frontline treatment, and for them, it’s often the best choice.
However, about half of the people prescribed CPAP can’t stick to the treatment long-term. This means that they essentially have untreated OSA.
If you find that CPAP doesn’t work for you, it’s important to get a CPAP alternative so you can protect your health with an effective treatment.
Surgical Sleep Apnea Treatment
People with sleep apnea have elevated risks from surgery. Plus, many surgeries provide only temporary help. That’s why surgery is considered a treatment of last resort for patients.
The most common types of OSA surgery include:
- Tissue shaping
- Jaw repositioning
- Tissue support
- Nerve stimulation
During surgery, a doctor can reshape the tissues that cause your airway to collapse. The most common procedure is known as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). Other times, the surgeon will reshape or tighten tissues using lasers or other energy beams. UPPP and related procedures don’t give great results for sleep apnea–and their results don’t last. However, it can support oral appliance therapy.
Jaw repositioning involves surgically moving your jaw to help keep your airway open. This surgery can be expensive, has a high risk of complications, and has a long recovery time.
Tissue support involves putting implants in soft tissues that tend to collapse. These hold your airway open so you can breathe all night easily.
Nerve stimulation uses an electrical implant similar to a pacemaker. However, instead of stimulating your heart, it stimulates the muscles of the throat. This keeps them alert, so they hold your airway open more effectively.
Find the Right Sleep Apnea Treatment in Minneapolis
If you are in Minneapolis and need help finding the best sleep apnea treatment for you, let sleep dentist Dr. Kevin Bril help. He can evaluate your airway and match you with an effective sleep apnea treatment.
Please call (952) 944-2052 or use our online form to schedule an appointment at Brilliant Dentistry, serving Minneapolis, from our location in Eden Prairie.