What is Sleep Apnea?

What causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Snoring is a result of partial blockage of the upper airway. During sleep, muscles relax, including those that control the tongue and throat. The soft tissue at the back of the throat can sag, narrowing the airway. Incoming air then makes the tissue at the rear roof of the mouth (the soft palate), the flap of skin hanging from the palate (uvula) and the throat vibrate-a sound known as snoring.

Loud snoring may be a sign of a more serious problem-OSA. This is where the airway becomes completely blocked and breathing stops. The brain then detects the lack of oxygen and prompts a momentary arousal to draw breath.

There are three types of OSA: upper airway obstructive, central, and mixed. A machine using Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is often prescribed for patients with sleep apnea. The apparatus consists of a facemask, headgear to hold the mask in place, and flexible hose running to the machine. It is very effective treatment, but only if you are able to wear it and sleep comfortably. For those patients that are unable to tolerate the CPAP, Dr. Compton can construct an oral appliance, the SomnoDent MAS, a mandibular advancement appliance. He has worn this appliance himself for wo years and cannot get along without it.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition and has been linked to excessive tiredness, depression, and reduced resistance to infection. OSA is a medical condition and cannot be diagnosed by a dentist. Dr. Compton advises that all patients undergo a sleep study, prior to oral device therapy for Sleep Apnea Treatment in Concord NC.



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