Dental Sleep Medicine focuses on the management of sleep-related breathing disorders (SBD), which includes the continuum of snoring to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), with oral appliance therapy (OAT) and upper airway surgery. OSA is a potentially life-threatening medical disorder that is more prevalent in males, and progressively worsens with advancing age and weight gain.
It is caused by repetitive collapse and blockage of the upper airway while asleep that results in reduced oxygen delivery to body organs, most critically the heart and brain. . High blood pressure, snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) are the most common symptoms of OSA. It may also cause memory loss, morning headaches, irritability, depression, decreased sex drive, and impaired concentration. Left untreated, OSA can result in hypertension, strokes, heart attacks, and sudden death while asleep, as well as motor vehicle accidents due to drowsiness while driving. Having a sleep study is the only way to differentiate between simple snoring and sleep apnea. It is the standard of care before treating simple snoring.
According to the Institute of Medicine’s 461 page report released in April 2006 entitled “Sleep Disorders and sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem” (http://nap.edu), an estimated 50-70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders, including OSA. EDS alone costs $150 billion annually in lost productivity and mishaps, and another $48 billion in medical costs related to motor vehicle accidents that involve drowsy drivers. Almost 20% of all serious car crash injuries are associated with driver EDS, independent of alcohol effects.