Sleep apnea affects 18 million Americans, and yet 80 to 90% of the people who suffer from it never get the help they need to get a good night’s rest. This is a serious problem that could result in high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, constant fatigue, and even stroke.
Why do so many people let this condition go untreated? Sleep apnea is the involuntary cessation of breathing while asleep. These pauses can last for a few seconds or even a minute and can occur anywhere between 5 and 100 times an hour.
Unfortunately, a lot of people try to convince themselves that this is no big deal. That they’re just feeling a little tired and they can power throughout it with coffee and energy drinks. Others wonder how these people can’t know there’s something wrong, but the fact is that someone with this condition may only partially wake up when their breathing stops. That means they may not realize it’s happening, but they’re never reaching the important deep sleep that we all need.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common condition and it is caused by blockages in the airway that stop you from breathing. Once you know that you have this condition, there are several ways you can treat it and begin to reclaim a restful night’s sleep.
Elastic Mandibular Advancement (EMA)
An Elastic Mandibular Advancement (EMA) oral appliance is a removable appliance that is custom fit to your teeth to provide a noninvasive treatment for OSA. This device has been approved by the FDA and is a simple and effective way to keep your airways open at night so you will continue to breathe without interruption.
The EMA works by using interchangeable elastic straps to gently advance the mandible (the lower jaw) forward. We can control exactly how much movement takes place with the different straps and ensure that the airways are clear and sleep is much improved. This simple movement helps to tighten the soft tissues in the upper airway, which prevents obstructions during sleep. This tightening also prevents the tissues there from vibrating as air passes over them, which means that it helps to cut down on loud snoring – which leads to a better night’s sleep for those around you, too.
How Does an EMA Compare to Other Treatment Options?
One of the most common treatments that doctors prescribe for sleep apnea is the use of a CPAP machine. This solution involves a machine and a face mask that covers the nose (or maybe the nose and mouth) and pushes pressurized air through the airways to keep them open. It is certainly an effective option, but many people find that it is very uncomfortable and so they choose not to use it, and instead deal with the constant fatigue.
An unused treatment is not a treatment at all, and many people risk severe health problems by not getting the help they need.
Another option is a tongue retaining device. This is like an EMA device in that it is an oral device that repositions something in your mouth. In this case, it keeps the tongue from sliding back where it could block the airway. It’s a lot like wearing a mouth guard or night guard, so it can also help stop someone from grinding their teeth.
The Benefits of an EMA Device
The most important benefit of an EMA device is that it is a device that patients will actually use. It is unobtrusive, small, and custom fit to their own teeth. It doesn’t take long to become accustomed to sleeping with it in, and the results can be just as effective as other options.
These devices are also comparatively small, so people who suffer from sleep apnea can take them on trips and continue to sleep well even when they’re away from home. There is no noise from a machine producing air pressure, and they can be quickly adjusted to improve results.
If you are having trouble getting the rest you need, and a CPAP machine has not worked for you in the past, consider these oral devices and rediscover what it’s like to take on the world after a full night’s rest. Contact our dentist in Tulsa, OK for Obstructive Sleep Apnea testing and treatment today.