Chronic exhaustion is not normal. Though it may be a symptom of many different health conditions, obstructive sleep apnea is one of the most common – and easily treatable – causes. Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, will cause your throat or soft palate to block your airways while you are sleeping. With every interruption to your sleep, you will wake up, and you will never get the full amount of rest you need. Obstructive sleep apnea can be a particularly serious concern for seniors because it has been linked to a number of health conditions. Fortunately, our practice offers treatment for OSA using custom-made oral appliances. We offer a wide range of devices, including the Herbst® appliance, which has been a trusted choice for many years. Since we are one of the few area practices that participates in Medicare, your treatment will be affordable, as well as effective and convenient.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
When you are sleeping, you want your body to relax. Tense muscles and a rigid sleeping posture are often the results of stress and anxiety. However, in some cases, your body can go to the other extreme. If your oral tissues and the muscles in your throat relax too much, they can droop, closing off your airways. Alternatively, your tongue could fall back in your mouth with similar effects. Every time this happens, you will stop breathing. In response, you will wake up or move to a lighter sleep cycle. When you wake up, breathing will automatically resume.
Because you may not fully wake up, you may be unaware that you are doing so. However, the telltale signs of sleep apnea can help Dr. Gershberg to diagnose your condition. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Chronic exhaustion
- Mood swings/irritability
- Loud snoring
- Frequent headaches
- Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth
- Daytime sleepiness
Why Is Treatment So Important for Seniors?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition for patients of all ages, but it is even more widespread among those over age 65. You are also at a higher risk for the condition if you are male, overweight, or have a genetic predisposition to OSA.
Sleep apnea may increase your risk for a number of serious health conditions, many of which are already more likely to affect seniors. High blood pressure is one of the most common. Scientists are not sure exactly why the two conditions are linked, although many believe that the constant fluctuations in blood oxygen levels will strain your heart. Of course, hypertension will also increase your risk for heart attack, stroke, and many other serious conditions. Fortunately, treating OSA has been shown to lower blood pressure for many patients.
How Do We Treat OSA?
Dr. Gershberg treats sleep apnea with custom-made appliances, also called mandibular adjustment devices (MADs). Your device will fit all the way over your upper and lower teeth. Made from impressions of your teeth, the appliance will be comfortable and easy to adjust to. It will gently push your lower jaw forward while you sleep. In this way, it will tighten your soft palate and open up your throat. We also offer tongue repositioning devices that will keep your tongue from falling back into your throat.
One of the most effective treatment options is the Herbst® appliance. This device has a unique design that allows for both lateral and vertical movement. The biggest advantage of the Herbst® appliance is that it is easy to adjust. Your appliance will be custom-crafted just for you, and it will allow for extremely precise adjustments of as little as 0.22 mm at a time. Dr. Gershberg will monitor your progress. If needed, he can realign your device so that it pushes your lower jaw farther forward.
Oral Appliances vs. CPAP
For years, CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, was the most common treatment option for sleep apnea. Patients who received this treatment would wear a mask over their mouths and noses. Then the CPAP machine would pump air through the mask, keeping the airways open. CPAP remains a popular choice, but more and more practitioners have realized the benefits of mandibular adjustment devices. First, oral appliances are far more comfortable. Many patients could not sleep while wearing their CPAP masks. In contrast, most people easily adjust to oral appliances, and they are able to enjoy a full night’s sleep soon after beginning treatment. MADs are also more discreet and much easier to travel with than cumbersome CPAP machines.
Affordable Care at The Art of Dentistry
Because sleep apnea treatment is so important to your overall health, Dr. Gershberg does everything possible to make this care affordable and convenient. Herbst® appliances and other MADs are Medicare approved, and insurance companies will often cover part of the cost. Therefore, the treatment you need can easily fit within your budget. Since we are the only dental practice in the Delaware Valley participating in Medicare, we are proud to be your source for quality sleep apnea treatment.
Contact Us for an Improved Night’s Sleep
Do not let sleep apnea affect your health and quality of life. Contact Dr. Gershberg’s office to learn more about OSA treatment and to schedule your consultation.