Dr. Arlene O’Brien Discusses Oral Appliance Therapy for Sleep Apnea

By | In Practice News

sleep-apneaI developed a passion for helping others suffering from sleep apnea – which causes people to snore and stop breathing periodically during their sleep – after my father was diagnosed with the condition when I was a child. Due to my interest in sleep apnea and desire to provide the best level of care to our Cornerstone Dental patients, I became a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine after dental school and pursued several continuing education courses in the sleep dentistry field, including a Rondeau Seminars course in the ‘Dentists Role in Snoring and Sleep Apnea.’ As a result of this extensive education, our New Jersey cosmetic and implant dentistry practice receives referrals from a local pulmonologist when their patients are searching for a dentist experienced with sleep apnea treatment.

Patients with sleep apnea currently have three treatment options: oral surgery, a CPAP (or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device, or an oral appliance. Typically, patients with severe cases of sleep apnea may undergo invasive oral surgery by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to open their air passageways, although the procedure has an unreliable success rate.

Another therapy option is a CPAP device. This common treatment uses generated air pressure to keep air passageways open. Many patients who are diagnosed with sleep apnea and sent home with the device rarely use it because they find that the face mask is uncomfortable or restricting. Not using the device can increase their chances of experiencing serious health consequences, like hypertension, stroke, and heart failure, because of how many times they are not breathing during their sleep.

Above all, I want to bring awareness to people that there is another treatment option for sleep apnea besides a CPAP device. An oral appliance can improve a patient’s overall health and well-being by stabilizing and repositioning their lower jaw, tongue, and other soft tissues so they can get a steady flow of air. The device is as comfortable as wearing any retainer. During a free consultation, I can evaluate whether a patient is a candidate for an oral appliance. If they are a candidate, I can design, customize, and adjust its fit to improve the patient’s ability to breathe.

Dr. Arlene O’Brien

To learn more about our treatment options for sleep apnea, or to schedule an appointment, please contact our office.