The best way to diagnose OSA (or any sleep disorder) is to catch them when they are happening. That is why there are essentially two alternatives for diagnosing them: in a sleep lab or at home.
At the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Office we use the latest diagnostic equipment for sleep disorders. One of these is the Watch-Pat device which fits comfortably over the patient’s hand and is worn for one night. The resulting data reveals key information, including the number and length of periods that the patient’s sleep was interrupted. We then use this data, combined with other diagnostic tools, to determine the appropriate treatment plan to correct the problem.
Treatment options for OSA fall into three major categories:
Lifestyle Changes. Many individuals can relieve the symptoms of OSA by increasing exercise and losing weight. Among other improvements, this reduces fat and increases muscle tone in the throat, which lessens any airway constriction. Lifestyle changes are recommended even in cases when they, alone, will not resolve the problem.
Medical Interventions. Many OSA sufferers experience improvements using an at-home sleep device that delivers Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). The patient wears a mask to sleep that is attached to a hose and a pump, which supplies air at a stable pressure level to prevent the airway closure that leads to apnea. While effective, the machine can be noisy and cumbersome. In fact, 80% of patients are non-compliant after one year.
In the most severe cases, the only other medical intervention is surgery. This is an option of last resort. During the surgery, portions of the uvula and wall of the throat are removed and the jaw bone may be cut to create a wider airway passage.
Dental Orthotic. At the TMJ and Sleep Therapy Office, we prefer to use non-invasive, customized and affordable dental orthodic appliances whenever possible to reposition the jaw, mouth and teeth in a way that helps prevent airway closure. In 2006, the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine supported the use of oral appliances as first line treatment option for patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. Dr. Steven Olmos, founder of the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Office, has created a series of specialized orthotics just for this purpose. These portable devices are placed into the patient’s mouth and worn throughout the night. They are easy to clean and maintain and are noiseless. As a result, many patients prefer the dental orthodics over CPAP.