Snoring is not sleep apnea, and sleep apnea is not snoring. Snoring is a social problem, which may involve considerable sleep disturbance, waking episodes, etc., without obstructive sleep apnea. However, many patients with loud snoring, may also have obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep disorders can range from mild to severe snoring, to times when breathing may actually stop (sleep apnea). Severe snoring may be a sign of the potentially serious obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). There are a variety of treatments for each disorder. Dentistry is now serving a vital role in treating this under-diagnosed epidemic. Now many dentists are getting trained and certified in Sleep Medicine. Dentists are committed to treating your overall oral health and well-being and will work with your doctor to find an effective treatment for your sleep disorder.
At the office of Dr. Lisa Loescher Family Dentistry in Slidell, La. they encourage patients to get a home sleep test and specialize in providing treatments for many kinds of sleep disorders. “We offer a free consultation to all of our patients and welcome new patients to call our office for an appointment to discuss their sleep behaviors. Many treatments are covered by medical insurance,” says Dr. Loescher.
It is estimated that 40 million Americans snore at some time or another. Even more people are affected if you consider the bed partners of those who habitually snore. Such snoring may cause several problems:
- Marital discord
- Sleep disturbances (from spousal prodding)
- Waking episodes (from one’s own snoring)
- Frequent sleep apnea (OSAS) episodes
Loud snorers should have a home sleep test to determine if they suffer from sleep apnea. Treatment is discussed once the sleep study results are diagnosed by a sleep physician. Treatment decisions are based on whether significant apnea exists. For snorers, treatment can include non-surgical approaches. A non-surgical option is an oral sleep appliance. Another method is Laser Aesthetics, laser light therapy that tightens tissue and opens airways. Both have high success rates.
Oral Sleep Appliances
Dentists pioneered the use of oral appliance therapy. An oral appliance is a device worn in the mouth only during sleep. It fits like a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer. A custom-fit oral sleep appliance can be an effective treatment that prevents the airway from collapsing by supporting the jaw in a forward position. According to Joseph Wessing, a patient at the office of Dr. Lisa Loescher, “I am now allowed back in my own bed since getting my snore appliance. The mouthpiece is comfortable and allows me to get a better night sleep.”
Laser Reduction Therapy
Laser Aesthetics is method used to treat mild-to-moderate snorers and those with very mild OSAS. This procedure utilizes a laser beam to remove and tighten floppy soft palatal tissue in the back of the mouth, thereby reducing the amount that these tissues contribute to snoring. This procedure can be performed in an outpatient setting. Many people find that their snoring is significantly reduced and results in a positive change in sleep patterns. Some patients do however require multiple treatments to effectively eliminate severe snoring.
A Patient Friendly Solution
Dr. Loescher offers both oral sleep appliances and a full course of laser treatments. The laser treatments are done in her office and consist of three to four separate treatment sessions every three weeks. The final results of the treatment have been shown to last up to a year, and the therapy can be repeated.
Dr. Loescher says her patients find the laser to be a highly comfortable and satisfying solution. According to Dr. Loescher, “This treatment does not necessarily require a device to be worn during sleep and involves no chemical treatment. It’s a gentle and easy way for my patients to regain a good night’s rest.”
Dr. Lisa Loescher, DDS is certified by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Her office is located at 1400 Old Spanish Trail in Slidell, La. Her office can be reached at (985) 643-6620.