Effective Sleep Apnea Treatment in Princeton, NJ
What is Sleep Apnea?
Do you or your spouse snore loudly and repeatedly, preventing one of you from getting a good night’s rest? Snoring may be harmless – or it can indicate something more serious like a sleep disorder. Luckily, Dr. Cortese works in close collaboration with sleep specialists who diagnose sleep disorders and offer effective treatment solutions.
Obstructive sleep apnea, also known as OSA, is a common disorder that interferes with your ability to breathe during sleep. This occurs when the soft tissues of the palate relax in the back of the throat, preventing the flow of air. Because of this, you’ll repeatedly wake up throughout the night.
The brain quickly recognizes the lack of oxygen and signals the body to wake up and gasp for air. These episodes can happen several hundred times a night, but most patients will have no memory of them the next morning.
Figure 1 A mandibular advancement appliance that works well for bruxers
Health Risks of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious health concern because it prevents the body’s organs from receiving the oxygen they need during sleep. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health complications, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks
- Type 2 diabetes
A lack of quality sleep can also result in daytime fatigue and other cognitive problems, such as difficulty concentrating and mood changes.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Loud and frequent snoring is the most common symptom of sleep apnea. However, not everyone who snores suffers from a sleep disorder. Additional symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Frequently gasping for air throughout the night
- Waking up with a sore or dry throat
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Mood changes like irritability and depression
- Lack of energy and motivation
- Morning headaches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Frequent urination at night
- Reduced libido
- Nighttime sweating
- Recent weight gain
If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be suffering from sleep apnea. Typically, OSA is diagnosed by a sleep specialist after a sleep study has been conducted. After a diagnosis has been made, Dr. Cortese will discuss your treatment options.
Our Sleep Apnea Treatments
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
One of the most popular sleep apnea treatments is a device called a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. It consists of a mask that’s worn over the nose (and possibly mouth) to deliver a constant stream of pressurized air into the throat. The positive air pressure keeps the upper airway open and prevents any pauses or interruptions in breathing.
Individuals that sleep with a CPAP machine snore less, sleep better, and report more energy during the day. Those who cannot tolerate or refuse CPAPs may opt for specially designed oral devices that keep the airway open and stop sleep-disordered breathing.
Craniofacial Pain Management
As an accredited maxillofacial prosthodontist, Dr. Cortese has experience in cranial pain management, which is often a chronic side effect of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. After evaluating your specific pain and its suspected cause, Dr. Cortese can recommend a pain management plan. Possible techniques include behavior/lifestyle modifications, physical therapy, medication, massage, injections, and more.
Palatal Obturator/Obturator Prosthesis
An obturator is a prosthetic device that closes the opening created when surgeons remove cancerous tissues or rehabilitate congenital cleft palates. The obturator restores the patient’s ability to speak, swallow, and chew.
A maxillofacial prosthesis is a device designed to replace an area of tissue and/or bone in the jaw or face. The defect may be the result of genetics (i.e., the patient was born with it), disease (e.g., cancer) or a traumatic injury. Facial prostheses for the eyes, ears and noses, replace those removed during cancer surgery and restore patients’ quality of life.
Pediatric Sleep Apnea
Children can be affected by sleep apnea. Signs of pediatric sleep apnea include:
- Poor performance in school
- Hostility or anger
- Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose
If your child snores loudly and chronically, it’s important that they be evaluated by a sleep specialist for OSA. The American Association of Pediatrics "Practice Parameters" recently stated that all children should be screened for snoring because of the 70 percent overlap of snoring and sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a medical condition that is diagnosed by a medical doctor, but dentists are on the front line of screening for this condition and working with a sleep physician, ear-nose-throat doctor (ENT), and other medical professionals to treat this condition. Adult therapies for the management of OSA are not suitable for children.
Therapies such as CPAP and OAT have been known to arrest the skeletal development of growing children. The good news is, with a proper diagnosis and communication between dentists and medical specialists, Dr. Cortese can help cure pediatric OSA.
Sleep Apnea FAQs
Is sleep apnea dangerous or life-threatening?
Studies show that sleep apnea is linked to a heightened risk of serious, life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and more. People with untreated sleep apnea can also suffer from serious mental health conditions like depression or anxiety due to a chronic lack of quality sleep. Because of the risks associated with sleep apnea, early detection and intervention is critical.
If my spouse or I snore loudly, do I have sleep apnea?
While snoring is the most common sign of sleep apnea, not everyone who snores has OSA. However, if the snoring is coupled with other signs or symptoms, it’s in your best interest to be evaluated by a sleep specialist. A sleep study can help determine whether you or your partner is suffering from sleep-disordered breathing.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Sleep apnea can be treated a few different ways. The traditional method of treatment involved a bulky CPAP machine to keep the airway open during sleep. Newer treatments use a small removable oral appliance to keep the airway open. Dr. Cortese helps to fit and manage patients that choose to use an oral appliance to stop sleep apnea episodes.
Contact Princeton Prosthodontics
If you’d like more information about sleep apnea, craniofacial management pain, or maxillofacial prosthetics, schedule a consultation with Dr. Cortese. Contact our Princeton office by calling (609) 552-0800 or get in touch with us through our online contact form.