Poor quality sleep, often caused by medical conditions called UARS (upper airway resistance syndrome), OSA (obstructive sleep apnea), and CSA (central sleep apnea), have been proven to affect overall health negatively. When a person sleeps properly, hormones are released in the deeper levels of sleep that help to fight the aging process. In fact, the ability to fight cancer, the damage caused by diabetes, and to prevent vascular diseases that cause stroke, heart attacks, and death comes from hormones released during a healthy night of sleep. While it is imperative to recognize sleep disorders and manage them early in life before vascular disease develops, many of the people who need help now are over the age of 65.
Options for treating sleep disorders include painful surgery, positive airway pressure therapy with a machine that blows air into your lungs at night, weight loss, altering the way the patient sleeps, and dental appliances.
While CPAP machines are the “gold standard” for treating obstructive sleep disorders, they are inconvenient, and they require significant maintenance. Therefore, compliance with this type of therapy is not very high. In other words, people don’t use the machines as they should. Except for the dental appliance option, the other choices have questionable effectiveness. Special dental appliances, called mandibular repositioning devices, are effective, comfortable, and convenient for managing obstructive sleep disorders. They are now considered by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to be a viable option for treating snoring as well as mild and moderate sleep apnea. For severe sleep apnea patients, these appliances can improve the effectiveness of CPAP machines.
Many medical insurance companies recognize the need for oral appliances in sleep therapy and provide benefits upon a referral and prescription to a qualified dentist by a physician of record. Medicare also provides coverage for this treatment for sleep apnea to dentists who are registered providers of durable medical equipment. Our office is one such office. What this means is that many people can now enjoy the benefits of oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea that could not do so otherwise.