Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Your sleep impacts every aspect of your health and daily life. Sleeping well helps you look, feel and perform your best. But a sleep problem can be harmful to your health and well-being. One of the most common sleep problems is obstructive sleep apnea. Learn more about the warning signs and how you can get help.
About Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Nearly 30 million adults in the U.S. have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which can cause them to stop breathing hundreds of times a night for anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute.
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, allowing soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. As a result, repeated breathing pauses occur, which often reduce your oxygen levels. These breathing pauses are followed by brief awakenings that disturb your sleep.
Common signs of sleep apnea include snoring and gasping or choking sounds during sleep. Like snoring, sleep apnea is more common in men, but it can occur in women too, especially during and after menopause. Having excess body weight, a narrow airway or misaligned jaw all increase the risk of sleep apnea.
Is Treating OSA Important?
Treating obstructive sleep apnea is incredibly important to your health. When left untreated, sleep apnea often causes excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue, as well as morning headaches and memory loss. Sleep apnea also is a threat to your safety as it increases your risk of drowsy driving and workplace accidents. Untreated sleep apnea raises your risk for serious health problems. These include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Chronic acid reflux
- Erectile dysfunction
Severe, untreated sleep apnea even increases your risk of death.
How is OSA Diagnosed?
Kleinheinz Dentistry is proud to offer a Free Sleep Study. Call our office for more information. 704-542-6003.
How is OSA Treated?
Dr. Kleinheinz can discuss treatment options with you. We will provide a FREE SLEEP STUDY at your convenience.
- Oral appliance therapy uses a mouth guard-like device - worn only during sleep - to maintain an open, unobstructed airway.
Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. An oral appliance is worn in the mouth only while you sleep and fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. Oral appliances support your jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway.
Many patients consider a sleep apnea appliance to be more comfortable to wear than a CPAP mask. Oral appliances also are quiet, portable and easy to care for.
If you decide that oral appliance therapy is the best treatment option for you, then Dr. Kleinheinz will recommend a prescription for you to receive a custom-made sleep apnea appliance. More than 100 oral appliances have received FDA clearance. We prescribe and make the FDA approved appliances. Oral appliance therapy is covered by many medical insurance plans. We will do a complete benefits check upon your scheduled appointment.
If you have lost an entire arch of teeth (top and/or bottom), or are soon to have your remaining teeth removed because they are too unhealthy to save, you have three choices for implant-supported tooth replacement:
- Fixed bridgework, which is a set of lifelike dental crowns that serve as permanent replacements for your missing teeth. This is ideal for those who have not yet experienced the loss of jawbone density and volume that is inevitable with tooth loss. Learn more about implant-supported fixed bridgework.
- Fixed dentures, which, like bridgework, are never taken out of the mouth but contain not only replacement teeth but also replacement gum tissue. This works well for those who have experienced loss of gum tissue height and bone and want to prevent further deterioration while restoring a youthful facial appearance. Learn more about implant-supported fixed dentures.
- Removable dentures, which hook onto two or more dental implants so they won't slip while you're wearing them and also offer protection against deterioration of the jawbone. Learn more about implant-supported removable dentures.
How It Works
Dental implants serve the same purpose as the roots of natural teeth: They anchor the replacement teeth to your jawbone. Just like natural tooth roots, they lie under the gum line and therefore are not visible in the mouth. Only the lifelike prosthetic teeth or removable denture attached to them can be seen by you or anyone else. Because dental implants are made of titanium, a metal that has the unique ability to fuse to living bone, they are extremely stable and reliable (Learn More).
So do you need one implant for every tooth you are replacing? Definitely not. Replacing an arch of teeth with dental implants is somewhat like building a roadway bridge. You wouldn't need to put a support under every foot of road; you'd only need enough to ensure the bridge can hold up under normal stresses. Likewise, your implant teeth will be subjected to the stresses of biting and chewing, and need to be planned accordingly. Each individual has unique conditions; depending on the volume and density of the bone in your jaw, you will need as few as four and as many as six for your implant teeth to function as well as a set of healthy, natural teeth. A removable lower denture can be supported with as few as two implants; an upper removable denture will ideally need four to achieve stability.
What to Expect
The surgery to place dental implants is a simple, routine procedure carried out in the dental office under local anesthesia in most cases. If you need to have failing teeth removed, that will be done first. After numbing the area, the appropriate number of implants will be placed in your jaw at precisely planned angles and positions to maximize support and avoid anatomical structures such as nerves and sinuses. Depending on how many implants you will need, the surgery can take anywhere from one to three hours. Most people who have dental implants placed find that any post-operative discomfort can be managed with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Some don't even need to take that.
What happens immediately after surgery will depend on what's best to promote healing in your case. Sometimes a set of temporary teeth can be attached immediately, so that you can leave the office with new teeth; a few months later, your permanent replacement teeth with be installed. In other cases, the implants will be left to heal for several months before any teeth are attached. Sometimes that is the best way to insure that the implants remain undisturbed as they go through the process of fusing to your jawbone, which is known as osseointegration.
In either case, you will need to go easy on your newly placed implants during the crucial healing phase following surgery. We will instruct you to eat a softer diet and avoid hard, chewy foods until the process of osseointegration is complete — about two to three months. While this may seem like a long time, keep in mind that people who wear removable dentures without implants often avoid these foods permanently. The good news is that once your implants have fused to your jawbone and your new teeth are attached, you will be able to eat anything you want. In fact, you are likely to forget you even have dental implants!
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