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News : Health Apr 11, 2012 - 8:56 AM

Dr. Cahn: Dentists treat obstructive sleep apnea

By Jeffrey Cahn, DMD (Press release)

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Qualified dentists can now treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a common sleep disorder, affecting nearly 1 in 8 individuals in the United States. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine certifies select dentists to design comfortable oral appliances for patients, which has proven to be a great alternative for the traditional CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) machine therapy.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a complete cessation of breathing during sleep due to an obstruction of the upper airway by the tongue and other soft tissue. Obstructive Sleep Apnea not only decreases the efficiency of sleep, which results in excessive daytime sleepiness and increased disorientation and abnormal mood swings; but has been shown to have a long term negative effect on the heart and cardiovascular health. Although frequently associated with snoring, OSA is not always present in people who snore.

There is no cure for OSA and some form of therapy must be used every night to prevent the profound heart effects it can cause. CPAP has been a tried and successful treatment recommended by physicians for people who have OSA. Unfortunately, many patients find the CPAP machine and its use to be uncomfortable and confining, limiting their use of the therapy. It is also difficult if you travel frequently and need to pack the CPAP machine and its associated tubing.

Oral appliances are now available to help patients who cannot or will not use CPAP therapy. A comfortable alternative, oral appliance therapy involves the selection, design, fitting and use of an oral appliance that, when worn during sleep, maintains an open and unobstructed airway in the throat. The oral appliances that treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are worn in the mouth, similar to orthodontic retainers or sports mouth-guards. The oral appliance keeps the tongue in a forward position to prevent any blocking of the airway. The most common of these functions works by progressively protruding the lower jaw and thereby increasing the airway volume..

Dentists work collaboratively with sleep doctors who, through sleep studies, determine the severity of the condition and the patient's needs. The type of oral appliance is determined for each patient and customized accordingly and has been successful in greatly reducing or eliminating apnea. Snoring is improved and often eliminated in almost 100 percent of patients who use oral appliances.

Oral appliances are significantly less expensive than CPAP machines and they may be covered by Medicare and various medical insurance companies.

Dr. Jeffrey Cahn has been practicing dentistry in Stamford for over 30 years and has been providing solutions for patients with sleep apnea for 16 years. For more information, contact

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