Healthy, even breathing is crucial to a good night’s sleep. If you suffer from sleep apnea, restoring the proper flow of oxygen can reduce your risk for a multitude of major health problems. Highland Park dentist Dr. Ira L. Shapira has vast experience researching sleep apnea, and he can recommend treatment options to help you recover your rest and your overall health.
Though it might seem unusual to talk to a dentist about your sleep habits, please call North Shore Sleep Dentistry at (847) 533-8313 today to learn more about sleep apnea treatment. Dr. Shapira serves patients in communities including Skokie, Vernon Hills, Lake Forest, Highland Park, and other parts of the Chicago metro area.
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
Now that sleep apnea is seen for the serious health threat that it is, there are thankfully multiple treatment options to choose from. Some of these include:
- Oral appliances
- DNA appliance® therapy
- Lifestyle changes
- CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure)
An oral appliance, also known as an orthotic, is designed similarly to a retainer. When worn during sleep, the appliance repositions features in the airway to prevent collapse. Some of the features an orthotic might adjust to facilitate proper breathing can include:
- The lower jaw (mandible)
- Soft palate
Dr. Shapira will take an impression of your mouth to customize the design of your appliance. There are many types of sleep apnea mouth guards available, meaning an orthotic can meet your unique needs while helping you rest comfortably and breathe more easily at night.
Though it’s worn like an orthotic, the DNA appliance® System operates on the principle of pneumopedics to treat sleep apnea. Instead of opening the airway, the DNA appliance® activates cells in the craniofacial region to remodel the airway so you can breathe better.
Sleep Apnea Treatment: Lifestyle Changes
Making minor lifestyle changes can also diminish the impact of sleep apnea symptoms. Simple things you can do to offset the severity of sleep apnea include:
- Avoid sleeping on your back
- Minimize alcohol and sleep aid consumption, and don’t use tobacco
- If you are overweight, implement a healthy diet and exercise plan to lose weight
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule
Dr. Shapira has found that a number of patients can benefit from non-intrusive, non-invasive treatment through a custom oral appliance, behavioral changes, or a combination of the two.
The CPAP machine is often considered the “gold standard” for sleep apnea treatment. The patient wears a mask that fits over the mouth and nose and maintains a steady flow of air into the body. When used according to physician instructions, CPAP is nearly 100% effective at providing relief from sleep apnea.
Unfortunately, many patients struggle to use CPAP on a nightly basis. Common issues with the technology include:
- Irritation of the nose and throat
- Dry mouth
- Breakouts on the portions of the face covered by the straps
A substantial number of patients are only able to use CPAP for four hours out of each night. After the first year, compliance rates drop dramatically. Because of the diminished success rate and the fact that it only treats the symptoms, Dr. Shapira will usually explore alternative treatments with sleep apnea patients who visit his Highland Park office.
For patients with severe sleep apnea, surgical revision or reduction of features obstructing the airway could be a necessary step to combat symptoms. Surgical procedures could adjust the size and shape of the:
- Soft palate
Though surgery is a permanent solution for sleep apnea, it is also a drastic option that requires significant recovery time. Before undergoing surgery for sleep apnea treatment, Dr. Shapira recommends scheduling a consultation with a non-surgeon for an impartial opinion.
Dr. Shapira is proud to provide an informed second opinion to patients considering surgery for sleep apnea. Along with assessing your health, Dr. Shapira can refer you to excellent local surgeons capable of performing the right procedure the first time.
Sleep apnea treatment requires the input of an expert in dental sleep medicine who can recommend custom, holistic solutions. Please contact North Shore Sleep Dentistry or call (847) 533-8313 today to schedule your appointment with our Highland Park dentist.