OFFICE BASED TREATMENTS FOR SNORING AND MILD SLEEP APNEA
Snoring is one of the most disturbing symptoms. This is true for people who have to sleep together or in close proximity with the snorer. This disorder can have both short and long-term effect on the patient. These can range from sleepiness during the day with low productivity to serious health conditions such as an increased risk of heart disease.
Did you know that some causes of snoring and sleep apnea can be managed with simple procedures at your doctor’s office? The two main procedures for this are:
- Oral appliance therapy
- Injection snoreplasty
Oral appliance therapy for snoring
These are custom made appliances. This means each patient is fitted with an appliance that is unique to their oral anatomy so that no appliance can be used by two patients. It works by adjusting the position of the lower jaw in relation to the upper one in a way that prevents airway obstruction. This simple appliance is a more economical and effective alternative to CPAP therapy without the bulkiness that goes with the latter. A good oral appliance device for snoring and sleep apnea should be:
- User friendly
- Easy to fit and use
- Not impair tongue movement
- Allow mouth to close.
Are oral appliances safe?
Some people hesitate to use oral appliance therapy equipment due to perceived misconceptions about their safety. The facts are:
- While oral appliances may cause bite changes in some patients, specific oral exercises can prevent it.
- Teeth loosening is not as common as many think. A thorough prior examination and preemptive measures greatly lowers the risk of this happening. The style of appliances we use holds the entire dental arch as one unit making it very unlikely for any dental shifting to occur.
- Oral appliances are not meant for only mild obstructive sleep apnea cases. They greatly reduce the symptoms even in moderately severe cases.
- Oral appliances and temporal mandibular joint disorders may occur in poorly assessed patients. To avoid this we do thorough examination of the state of the TMJ and only use specially designed appliances. We also work closely with physical therapist on this.
Injection snoreplasty is one of the measures employed to counter the snoring disorder. According to newswise, this technique is as effective as other types of treatment used for the disorder. This includes surgical procedures such as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty and certain laser procedures. The difference is that, injection snoreplasty is cost-effective and essentially painless. According to the authors in the newswise study, the conclusion was that:
- At 16% relapse rate, injection snoreplasty compares well to other techniques for snoring management. There is a high probability that it will offer permanent solution to many patients.
- It is more convenient
- It is cheaper
- It is simple
- Patients satisfaction is high at 9 out of 10
This procedure involves injection of a chemical called sodium tetradecyl into the submucosa of the soft palate. This sclerosis some tissues of the palate which reduces its flutter during sleep.
The use of oral appliance therapy is covered by many insurance companies but injection snoreplasty is currently not covered as it is considered experimental. Its future however, looks bright.
Considerations before use of oral appliance and injection snoreplasty therapy
A thorough patient assessment is a must. We do this to ascertain that the patient is an ideal candidate for the specific technique. Assessment includes a detailed ENT examination which includes the state of the TMJ.
Depending on the findings we proceed to use the appropriate treatment measures or manage any underlying disorder or refer the patient appropriately.