Snoring occurs when patients have a partial obstruction (or blockage) of their airways which cause the tissues in the back of the throat to vibrate. Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder which occurs when the airway is completely blocked for certain periods of time (called episodes). Although patients may typically view snoring and/or sleep apnea as only an annoyance, significant health risks can arise if patients are not receiving adequate oxygen levels during their sleep. Many patients who suffer from sleep apnea also suffer from irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. Breathing interruptions are life-threatening and should be addressed immediately for treatment.
The Dentists at Hillstead Dental approach patients with a history of snoring or sleep apnea episodes with serious concern. They evaluate the patients thoroughly and speak to the patients about the factors that contribute to the disorder such as age, obesity, alcohol consumption, or sedative medication use. Patients are typically referred to a sleep study center for a medical diagnosis and then Dr. Hillstead will consult with the medical professionals about the proper treatment for each patient.
Treatment options by the medical professionals usually include positive pressure oxygen masks (C-PAP Machines) or surgical intervention. These treatments are only necessary in moderate to severe cases. Dr. Hillstead treats cases that are diagnosed as mild to moderate sleep apnea with removable nighttime appliances. These dental appliances are custom made to re-position the lower jaw allowing the patient to sleep free of airway obstruction. Please feel free to consult with Dr. Hillstead if you think that you or someone in your family may have a sleep disorder.