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Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea

Don't ignore the snore!

Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Don't Ignore the Snore!

Do you or your partner snore? Snoring can be an indication of a more serious health condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). We snore when the tongue and other soft tissues partially obstruct the airway. The air is forced through a small opening, which creates the all too familiar snoring sound.

sleep apnea

OSA is when the tongue and other soft tissues completely block the airway and we totally stop breathing during sleep. Often those afflicted with OSA will stop breathing for 10 seconds or more and will do that dozens of times an hour. And some will stop breathing for a minute or even more.  We’ve seen some people stop breathing for a shocking 147 seconds (that’s 2 minutes and 27 seconds for those of you who are too tired to compute that math)! The body is deprived of oxygen. You can imagine how disruptive that is to the sleep pattern. It prevents you from getting into REM sleep. People awake exhausted, feel depressed, run down, forgetful and just generally perform poorly due to the lack of oxygen and REM sleep.

Sleep should be a replenishing activity, but those with OSA struggle and fight all night, and amazingly most of those patients don't even know they have this serious medical condition.

If this is you, a sleep study could be done to get a diagnosis and we can help you with that.

What are the side effects of the chronic oxygen deprivation caused by sleep apnea?

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Increased risk for heart attacks or irregular heart beats
  • Stroke
  • Impotence
  • Morning Headaches
  • Memory Disabilities
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Impaired Concentration
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Chronic Sleepiness

There are simple screening tests you can take right now. The Epworth Sleepiness Scale is the classic tool to assess potential risk.

A score of 11 or higher suggests that you may have a sleeping disorder such as sleep apnea and certainly warrants a sleep study. We can evaluate the results when you come to visit us. It might be a good idea to let your spouse fill this out also. Feel free to print this and bring it to our office when discussing sleep apnea.

If you are concerned about your spouse, the Sleep Observer Scale is a good screening tool also.

Snoring can be serious!

This can be a serious problem. In addition to being an indicator of potential sleep apnea and decrease quality of life, snoring has been shown to be very disruptive to marriages. You would be surprised to know how many spouses have to sleep in a different room due to snoring. As a matter of fact, as reported in the Times News Network, snoring was shown as one of the leading causes of divorce.

What are the treatments?

Dr. Richard Caven has developed a strong relationship with local sleep clinics. Clinics include St. Vincent's, Baptists and others. They are truly top tier sleep centers to help make your experience as easy and as comfortable as possible.

But also, if you prefer, there are home sleep studies that can be performed. Our office is equipped to help you get the diagnosis you need to begin getting treatment.

Once diagnosed, there are a few treatment methods. The gold standard and most effective is a CPAP machine. These devices can correct even the most severe cases of sleep apnea. But a large percent of people cannot tolerate their CPAP. So if you are one of the many people that can't tolerate the CPAP or if you just don't want one, we can fabricate an oral appliance that will open your airway and help to reduce the severity of your condition.

The Oral Appliances that we make are completely customized and are of the highest quality. Compliance, effectiveness and satisfaction are very high with this treatment.

Other treatment options can be losing weight, changing your sleeping posture, avoiding medications like sedatives, reducing nighttime alcohol consumption, and invasive surgery that removes your uvula and soft palate or maybe even more invasive.

What is next?

If you think you or your spouse may have sleep apnea or just simply snores, call us at (904) 645-3366 for an evaluation in our office. From there, if you seem to be at risk for sleep apnea, we can organize a diagnostic sleep study. Once that is completed, we can assess what treatment method might work the best for you.

Can I get an appliance without a sleep study?

We will not make an appliance unless there is a current sleep study to accurately diagnosis and measure the severity of your condition. You must have a sleep study that is 3 years or newer. A new sleep study can be organized at any time. This is entirely for your safety. Over the counter and internet devices are poorly fitting as well as potentially dangerous.

I only snore. Can I get an Oral Appliance without a sleep study?

Again, we must have a sleep study to accurately diagnose your condition. It is incorrect to provide treatment without a diagnosis.

How much is an Oral Appliance?

If you have medical insurance, the consultation, sleep study and oral appliance are often covered in large part. Since each insurance company is different, we gather your insurance information and have a professional organization investigate your particular insurance to understand your unique coverage. We have methods to help people afford the care they need.

Can I see Dr. Caven to assess my sleep condition if I am seeing another dentist?

Of course! We would never get in the way of a relationship with another professional. We would always be in contact with your dentist to inform him/her of discussions and potential treatment.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call Dr. Richard Caven for your consultation.

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