How DreamSleep Works to Relieve the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea affects about 22 million people in the United States, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association, and what’s worse, as many as 80 percent of people with moderate to severe apnea haven’t been diagnosed. That means all those women and men are at an increased risk for serious medical issues associated with sleep apnea, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, depression, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

While continuous positive airway pressure is a common treatment for sleep apnea, many patients find the CPAP mask to be uncomfortable, especially since they need to wear it while sleeping. Plus, cleaning and maintaining the mask, tubes and filters of a CPAP system can be both time-consuming and expensive. At The Woodlands Dental Group, Dr. David Epstein helps people treat their sleep apnea symptoms with custom-made oral appliances, improving nighttime breathing without the use of a CPAP device. As a DreamSleep Certified Provider, Dr. Epstein is trained in providing custom care solutions based on each patient’s health, symptoms and lifestyle factors. Here’s how he can help you.

The causes and symptoms of sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues at the back of your throat get really relaxed during sleep. When the muscles in this area relax, those soft tissues can drop down into your airway, blocking it temporarily. For people with sleep apnea, these tiny interruptions in breathing can happen hundreds of times a night. Often, they’re so brief, you can sleep right through them — and that means you may not even know you have sleep apnea.

Many people with sleep apnea snore, and it’s easy to think that if you don’t snore, you don’t have apnea. But that’s not the case. You can still have sleep apnea even if you don’t snore. Likewise, everyone who snores doesn’t have sleep apnea. Some people snore because of allergies or sinus problems or because their sinuses or airways are shaped differently. Waking up gasping for breath is another common symptom of apnea, but again, not everyone with apnea will have that symptom.

Interestingly, many of the more noticeable symptoms of sleep apnea occur during the day. These symptoms include morning headaches, feeling groggy or tired during the day, feeling irritable or depressed, or having difficulty concentrating. Because sleep apnea prevents you from getting restful sleep, daytime drowsiness can increase your risk for accidents, including car accidents and accidents at work. And, as noted earlier, without treatment, sleep apnea can increase your risks for a lot of other serious medical problems.

What is DreamSleep?

DreamSleep is a comprehensive training program aimed at helping dentists learn how to screen for and treat sleep apnea in their patients. As a DreamSleep-certified dentist, Dr. Epstein is skilled in using oral appliance therapy, or OAT, to treat apnea and relieve symptoms — without CPAP and without surgery. Dr. Epstein works with your doctor to prescribe a sleep study, which is designed to measure your breathing, heart rate, brain activity, and other factors that can be used to determine if you have apnea, as well as assess the severity of your condition.

If you’re diagnosed with sleep apnea, Dr. Epstein will make an impression, or mold, of your teeth. The impression serves as a model for your oral appliance, which will be made in a lab that specializes in OAT devices. Because your device will be shaped for your mouth and teeth, you can expect it to be very comfortable. While you’re wearing it, the device will gently shift your jaw forward, keeping your airway open while you sleep.

Oral appliance therapy won’t dry out your throat like CPAP can, and it’s completely quiet. Plus, its small size makes it really convenient for traveling. And finally, oral appliance therapy is much less costly than either long-term CPAP therapy or oral surgery to correct apnea.

Relieve sleep apnea symptoms and reduce your health risks

Getting treatment for sleep apnea doesn’t need to be complicated. At The Woodlands Dental Group, Dr. Epstein uses his skills and experience as a DreamSleep provider to ensure you get effective treatment right here in our office. To learn more about oral appliance therapy or to schedule a sleep apnea evaluation appointment with Dr. Epstein, contact the practice today.

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