What is sleep apnea;
The sleep apnea syndrome is a common disorder of breathing and refers to the 5% of the general population (as frequent as asthma or diabetes). Potentially it is linked to several health problems and can be fatal.
Apnea, due to the interruption of air flow in the airway, lasts more than 10 minutes. Apneas, depending on their etiology, are classified as obstructive, central or mixed. The most common form is obstructive apnea due to narrowing of the ex-thoracic air tubes.
Individuals with a high risk of developing the syndrome are obese and people with craniofacial abnormalities (macroglossia, micrognathia, enlarged tonsils, etc.). Other diseases such as hypothyroidism, myopathies, heart failure, stroke and several neurological syndromes are also directly associated with apnea.
The diagnosis comes out the medical history, the physical examination and a multi-metric sleep study done in specialized sleep laboratories. Depending on the type of apnea the appropriate treatment is given. In mild forms of the syndrome, small lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol and non-supine sleeping can help effectively.
When however, serious attacks of apnea occur, the application of a specific continuous positive airway pressure device, which gently blows air through the nostrils and mouth to keep the back of the throat open during sleep (with special nasal CPAP mask), is the most effective therapy.
Surgical treatment of the syndrome is decided in very limited and specific cases.
The contribution of the specialist-prosthodontist can be catalytic from diagnosis to treatment. With special customized intraoral appliances, the mandible is stabilized so that the anatomical molecules do not block the airway, helping the patient to have a normal and comfortable sleep.
These intraoral devices are perfectly comfortable and user-friendly, according to testimonies of the patients themselves. They are often used in healthy people for the treatment of snoring. In any case, medical monitoring is necessary for a device to be adapted to the individual needs of each person.