Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea Tulsa, OK

Do you experience daytime sleepiness for no apparent reason? Do you frequently wake up during the night gasping for air? Do you snore? You might be one of the more than 12 million Americans who have sleep apnea if you’re exhibiting any of these signs. Come in and speak with us! With the aid of our custom-made oral appliance for sleep apnea in Tulsa, OK, we will help you get the restful night’s sleep you deserve.

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. It can disrupt your sleep cycle and cause excessive daytime tiredness, fatigue, irritability, depression, and a myriad of other conditions, including heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and more.

Oral Appliance Therapy in Tulsa

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Various factors can cause sleep apnea, the most common being weight gain and old age. However, not all people with sleep apnea are overweight or old. In fact, many young and thin women have sleep apnea because they have small airways to begin with.

The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs when tissue in the back of your throat relaxes and blocks your upper airway while you sleep. This can lead to periods of no or shallow breathing and reduce the amount of oxygen in your body.

What are the different types of sleep apnea?

There are three different types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea syndrome. 

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type and occurs when the tissues in your neck and throat relax while you’re sleeping. These tissues can collapse and cause an obstruction in your airway, causing either a partial blockage of air or a full blockage of air.

Your body then recognizes the decrease in oxygen and wakes you up to a lighter level of sleep. The tissues tense up, opening the airway and allowing you to breathe. This cycle continues all night.

A cognitive issue causes central sleep apnea. In normal circumstances, your brain controls your breathing constantly, even while sleeping. Central sleep apnea results when your brain fails to deliver instructions to keep breathing-related muscles active during sleep.

There are numerous causes of central sleep apnea, including:

  • A heart attack
  • Low blood oxygen level because of high altitude
  • injury to your nervous system, particularly in the areas of your spinal cord or brainstem that control your breathing
  • Diseases of the nervous system like Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)

Complex sleep apnea syndrome combines both OSA and central sleep apnea. This type of sleep apnea requires extensive care.

Snoring vs. Sleep Apnea

While snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, it isn’t the same as sleep apnea. Snoring is caused by a partial obstruction of the airway that causes vibrations in the throat when breathing. Sleep apnea occurs when there is a complete blockage of the airway, which can lead to shallow breathing or pauses in breathing.

While snoring and sleep apnea may share some common symptoms, sleep apnea is life-threatening, while snoring is more of a nuisance. However, patients who are treated for sleep apnea often see a major decrease or complete eradication of their snoring.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

The most common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Excessive daytime tiredness
  • Morning headaches
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking, 
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks and/or irritability. 
  • Night sweats and feeling restless at night
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Waking up several times a night to urinate
  • Lower testosterone in men

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, come in and speak with Dr. Henrich and his team so they can help identify the underlying cause.

Who is at risk of developing sleep apnea?

Anyone, from toddlers to elderly people, can develop sleep apnea. Certain situations and demographic groupings are more likely to experience obstructive sleep apnea.

  • Being overweight. The risk of OSA is considerably increased by obesity. 
  • Breathing difficulties may be caused by fat accumulation around your upper airway.
  • The size of the neck: narrower airways may be present in those with thicker necks.
  • A restricted airway. It’s possible that you inherited a narrow throat. Particularly in young children, tonsils or adenoids can potentially grow and obstruct the airway.
  • Gender. Sleep apnea affects men two to three times more frequently than it does women. Women who are overweight or who have been through menopause, however, run a higher risk.
  • Age. The prevalence of sleep apnea is much higher in older people.
  • Background of the family. Your risk may be increased if you have relatives who suffer from sleep apnea.

What if sleep apnea is left untreated?

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that, if ignored, can lead to a number of health issues, such as 

  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Arrhythmias
  • Cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the heart’s muscular tissue)
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Heart attacks

Patients with obstructive sleep apnea have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as sleep apnea can impact glucose control and insulin resistance.

In fact, untreated sleep apnea may worsen glycemic control among diabetic patients and increase the risk of diabetes-related complications.

These problems can include cardiovascular disease, neuropathy, and retinopathy. Ultimately, addressing both conditions is critical to improving the overall health outcomes of patients with diabetes and sleep apnea.

In addition, untreated sleep apnea may contribute to work-related impairment, accidents at work, car accidents, academic underachievement in kids and teens, and work-related accidents.

Sleep Apnea in Children

Children’s sleep apnea may manifest itself in a variety of ways. The following are signs of childhood sleep apnea:

  • Poor academic performance, inability to concentrate, or hyperactivity
  • Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may appear to be present in these signs
  • Loud snoring (snoring in children is never normal and should be assessed as soon as possible)
  • Bedwetting
  • Repeated swaying of the arms or legs while they sleep.
  • Odd sleeping positions or sleeping with their neck extended
  • Heartburn or nocturnal sweats

Depending on how severe their sleep apnea is, they may or may not need treatment. For instance, our doctor could decide to treat even moderate sleep apnea if you have heart disease risk factors. However, if your sleep apnea is severe, Dr. Henrich urges that you receive treatment.

When to consult a doctor

A person with sleep apnea should seek medical treatment since it could be a sign of an underlying issue, even though the connection between the disorders is not always evident.

The person may not be aware that they have sleep apnea, but a bed partner or other member of the household may notice it and alert them. Inability to concentrate, depression, heart attacks, and stroke are just a few of the conditions that sleep apnea is linked to.

How Does an Oral Appliance Treat Sleep Apnea?

If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from sleep apnea, you will need to be diagnosed by a sleep doctor before we are able to treat you. We do not provide this service, but we work with a network of sleep specialists that will be able to help you. Once the sleep test has been conducted and it has been confirmed that you have sleep apnea, you will return to our office for treatment. One amazing treatment option that we provide is an oral appliance.

An oral appliance is a custom-made device worn while sleeping that holds the lower jaw slightly forward to help keep the airway open. It can reduce snoring and improve sleep quality for those with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Oral appliances are effective, non-invasive treatment options for people who cannot or do not want to use a CPAP machine. 

Your dental impression will be taken, and Dr. Henrich will determine if you are a suitable candidate for this procedure. Once the device is created, our team will contact you to schedule a fitting.

To realign your bite when the appliance is taken out, you will also be given a morning repositioner. Additionally, he will train you on how to use and maintain the device. In order to receive the best possible care, you might also need to visit our office for a follow-up. 

The Benefits of an Oral Appliance

Sleep apnea appliances offer many benefits. These appliances are:

  • Easy to use: These gadgets are small enough to be used alone. They fit into or around your mouth and keep your airways open so you can get a good night’s rest. They are also portable and light, so you won’t have to worry about lugging around heavy objects, getting uncomfortable when sleeping, or having your airways obstructed while you’re away from home.
  • Convenient: Customization is possible for practical oral sleep equipment. They can be customized by our team to fit your jaw, teeth, tongue, and airway. This lessens the possibility of discomfort and enables a tailored fit and individualized care.
  • Stops snoring: The majority of oral appliances are made expressly to reduce snoring. The chin strips hold your mouth shut and make your nose breathe for you, while the tongue retainers stop snoring that starts at the base of the tongue. The other items clear space to lessen noise and commotion. 
  • Non-surgical: Because they are non-invasive, oral appliances don’t result in any bodily changes or pain. In other words, they don’t take much effort to become used to, are ready to use, and are simple to wear.
  • Minimal effort: It doesn’t take much effort to use oral devices. These oral gadgets are compact and convenient, and they can even be worn during the day, unlike the CPAP machine, which must be connected to an electrical outlet to function.
  • Better sleep: Your body regenerates itself during sleep. Your performance will improve since you’ll have a restful, uninterrupted night’s sleep. You’ll be more energized and possess improved attention, concentration, and problem-solving abilities. In other words, getting enough rest will make it easier for you to function every day.

Oral Appliance vs. CPAP Machine

If you have sleep apnea, you may consider whether oral appliances are more beneficial than CPAP. While CPAP is the gold standard for treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), dental appliances are more comfortable.

Also known as sleep apnea mouthguards, these treatments are becoming more popular as a less intrusive alternative, although they are not a one-size-fits-all solution. To make it easier to breathe while you sleep, oral devices can help keep your airways open.

How does a CPAP treat sleep apnea? 

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), which stands for “continuous positive airway pressure,” works by forcing air into your mouth or nose while you’re sleeping to keep your airway open. You would experience apneas and hypopneas if there wasn’t this steady stream of pressure pushing against your airway. 

When using CPAP to treat sleep apnea, the patient wears a mask that covers their mouth, nose, or both. A heated or non-heated hose connects the CPAP machine to the CPAP mask, which then receives therapy air through it. In general, CPAP machines last five years, but with the right upkeep, they can last up to seven years before needing to be replaced. 

Pros

  • May effectively treat obstructive sleep apnea by focusing on tissue obstructions. 
  • Lasts for years with proper maintenance.
  • Treats moderate sleep apnea.

Cons:

  • Sleeping in a mask can be uncomfortable and irritate the skin. 
  • Among other common CPAP side effects, sinus infections, congestion, and nosebleeds can occur.
  • Initial investment and ongoing costs.

How do oral appliances treat sleep apnea?

An oral appliance may be an option for those who have trouble using CPAP as a sleep apnea treatment. A mouthguard for sleep apnea will shift your jaw forward to maintain an open airway or stop your tongue from getting in the way and obstructing your airway.  

The two main types of oral devices are:

  • Devices for Retaining the Tongue: These mouthguards use suction to draw and hold the tongue forward, preventing it from collapsing backward into the airway. Likewise, they are referred to as tongue-stabilizing devices (TSD).
  • Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD): Mandibular Advancement Devices are usually fitted by a dentist and snap onto the teeth. They try to hold your jaw more forward to avoid obstructing your airway. 

Oral appliances are usually less expensive than CPAP, making them an appealing option for those seeking a reliable sleep apnea mouthguard. However, they must be replaced more often. 

Pros: 

  • Easier to travel since it doesn’t need electricity to operate.
  • May be more comfortable than a CPAP mask. 
  • Less expensive than a CPAP machine.

Cons: 

  • Not suitable for severe sleep apnea cases.
  • Needs replacement more often.

Why Choose Us?

At Henrich Dental, we are dedicated to providing our patients with the highest quality care and the latest treatments in dentistry. Our esteemed dentist, Dr. Frank Henrich, is a highly experienced doctor in oral appliance therapy. He has years of experience effectively treating patients with oral appliance therapy for snoring and sleep apnea.

At Henrich Dental, we are committed to providing our patients with the highest standard of care and personal attention. Our team works hard to ensure that all of our treatments fit each individual’s needs so they can achieve the best results possible.

We strive to ensure our patients feel comfortable and informed throughout their treatment process. Our staff is always available to answer questions and address any concerns.

When it comes to oral appliance therapy, you can trust Dr. Frank Henrich and his team at Henrich Dental for the most effective treatment options to help you get the restful sleep you deserve.

We offer a comprehensive range of services tailored specifically to each individual’s needs. Our state-of-the-art facility is equipped with the latest tools and technology, enabling us to provide personalized care in a comfortable environment.

From start to finish, our experienced team is dedicated to ensuring you get the best possible care. Contact us today to find out how our oral appliance therapy can help you get the restful sleep you need.

Oral Appliance FAQs

Learn more about sleep apnea treatment with oral appliances in our Tulsa, OK office with answers to these common questions:

Q: How long does a sleep apnea oral appliance last?  

Ans: Oral appliances for sleep apnea don’t last forever. Depending on wear, most of them will need replacing every one to two years. If you notice a change in the fit of your appliance, please let us know so we can create a replacement. 

Q: Can sleep apnea be harmful?

Ans: As a significant medical condition, sleep apnea raises the risk of heart failure and stroke by causing high blood pressure if it is not addressed. In addition to posing a risk to one’s safety while driving or operating heavy equipment, the persistent state of weariness brought on by sleep apnea can pose issues at work or school.

Additionally, sleep apnea can lead to adverse drug reactions or surgical outcomes. Sedation under anesthesia as well as lying flat in bed after surgery have potential risks. Before taking prescription medicine or having surgery, let your family doctor know if you know or think that you have sleep apnea.

Q: How do I take care of an oral appliance?

Ans:

  • Before using the device, brush and floss your teeth completely to prevent bacterial development.
  • Put your appliance in a carry-on bag at all times when traveling. Not only will this prevent it from being inadvertently misplaced, but it will also protect it from being subjected to sweltering temperatures in the aircraft’s cargo hold. 
  • If you’re driving, keep in mind that the hotter months can cause your sleep device to suffer from excessive temperature changes.
  • Avoid putting your oral appliance in the sun’s direct rays, leaving it in a hot car, or cleaning it with hot or boiling water to maintain its fit and increase its lifetime.

Q: What exactly is a sleep study?

Ans: A sleep study, also known as polysomnography, is used to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. During the test, the heart rate, respiration, eye and leg movements, and brain waves are recorded, along with other physiological data.

Polysomnography tracks your various sleep stages to determine if you have interrupted sleep patterns and identify their root causes.

Because the sleep study is such a complex test, it must be conducted under ideal conditions with sophisticated tools. As a result, it is virtually always done in a hospital, where you have to check in and stay the night.

Q: How can sleep apnea be cured?

Ans: Obstructive sleep apnea patients are frequently urged to make lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, giving up smoking, or drinking less alcohol. The following are some approved treatments for obstructive sleep apnea:

  • Nose decongestants
  • Oral appliances 
  • Dental appliances that move the jaw forward
  • Changing your sleeping position 

Q: What should I do if I believe a family member has sleep apnea?

Ans: If you suspect that your loved one may have sleep apnea, come in and speak to us right away. We can direct you to a sleep apnea specialist.

For an accurate assessment of the severity of the issue and to determine the most suitable course of action, the specialist may advise a sleep study. After the assessment, we will proceed with treatment. This can involve a sleep apnea oral appliance that we will make specifically for them.

Q: What lifestyle changes can I make to help treat my sleep apnea?

Ans: Our doctor will typically advise making these lifestyle adjustments for sleep apnea. 

  • Lose weight: Weight is the most significant risk factor for sleep apnea, so the best course of action may be to lose weight.
  • Workout: Sleep apnea has been proven to be improved by exercise.
  • Avoid alcohol: Alcohol results in a deeper slumber and more airway collapse. Only drink in moderation. 
  • Limit sedatives: Drugs that relax your throat muscles, such as sedatives, worsen sleep apnea.
  • Quit smoking: The impact of sleep apnea is tripled by smoking. Your airway becomes irritated as a result.
  • Avoid sleeping on your back: The soft palate sinks into the back of the throat while you sleep on your back. On your side, go to bed. 

Get Comfortable Sleep Apnea Treatment 

Do you or a loved one have sleep apnea? Call Dr. Henrich at (918) 553-5907 for a custom oral appliance for sleep apnea in Tulsa, OK. You can also schedule an appointment online.

Please let us know if you have questions about sleep apnea or your treatment options. We will be happy to help.