Sleep apnea is a major health concern that can cause heart issues, obesity, and other health conditions if it is left untreated. If you are not breathing regularly throughout the night due to obstructive sleep apnea and cannot tolerate traditional CPAP therapy, Dr. Robert Zboril of Zboril Dental Center may recommend a custom oral appliance. This custom device is worn at night, helping to shift your jaw forward, open your airway, and improve your breathing.
Sleep apnea is a major health risk that a lot of Americans face. A lot of folks have a CPAP machine to help them breathe at night. It's a major contributor to obesity and heart issues that a lot of folks can have, and it will contribute to making those conditions even worse and more difficult to manage and can even lead to death.
Basically, sleep apnea is when folks stop breathing for a period of time at night and they become interrupted in their sleep. Most folks can go without noticing it. They'll simply stop breathing for a period of 5, 10, 15, 20 seconds, even longer to where they don't breathe at all. And if we think about that on a day-to-day life, 20 seconds without breath is a long time. A minute is even longer. It's a long time to be without a breath.
You know, there's three basic fuels for the human body—food, water, and air. Food, you can last two weeks without food. You can last maybe a day, two days, three days even without water in the right environment. But without air, anything longer than two minutes can cause severe damage to the brain and other vital organs in our bodies.
And if you're not breathing regularly throughout the night, that could cause major health concerns. So when folks get diagnosed with it, there's a lot of different ways to approach it. The gold standard is CPAP, and that's a breathing machine that you wear at night, and it forces air so that air's always getting forced into your lungs. Some folks are not able to tolerate that. Some folks for them wearing a machine is just too much. It's too loud, it's too noisy, it's uncomfortable.
And so we're able to offer a second option is to be able to help open the airway by repositioning the jaw. When we are upright, our jaw hangs down. Gravity helps to seat our jaw down and hangs in the sling that our muscles create for it. But when we lay back, actually we then see that the jaw can actually shift backwards some, and when it does that, the tongue also can collapse into the airway. And so that can cause an obstruction in the airway where the volume, the size of the pipe becomes smaller, the tongue falls into it, the jaws sinks back, so instead of having a full-size pipe, now you're trying to breathe through something much smaller or maybe it was already small to begin with and now it's being cut off completely.
So what this helps to do is we'll actually take and we make a device that you wear at night, and it fits over your teeth and it helps to pull your jaw forward and then, in turn, can help to bring your tongue forward and can open up the airway, taking a blocked airway and making it back to a small pipe or taking that small pipe and making it back to a big pipe.
What it is able to do is it's able to provide some release. Just that little bit of change is allowing more air flow to go through to help people breathe better at night. It can also make CPAP more effective. Sometimes there are combination therapies where maybe your CPAP isn't working as well as it could possibly, so what we'll do is we can make the device to where it actually will incorporate or it can be worn with your CPAP.
So instead of having to have the setting cranked all the way up on your CPAP, maybe now you can dial that back because now you've helped open the airway some. And so it's not just a by itself treatment. It can actually be combined with your CPAP, or you can actually use it to replace your CPAP if you're intolerant to CPAP.
If you're interested in learning more, get a better night's rest, then you can give us a call. We'd love to hear from you.