Oral treatment for sleep apnea a viable option

Recently The I-O did a story on sleep apnea (May 27).

This is a follow-up story on the treatment of sleep apnea, with information provided by Dr. Schuyler VanDyke on oral appliance therapy (OAT).

Dr. VanDyke noted, “I think it’s important for the public to understand all their choices when it comes to treating this deadly disease.”

If 2005, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine published the practice parameters for the treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with oral appliances.

In this article it stated that oral appliances are indicated for use in patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea who prefer them to CPAP therapy, or who do not respond to, or are not appropriate candidates for, or who fail treatment attempts with CPAP.

At this time, CPAP is indicated whenever possible for patients with severe OSA before considering OAT.

“The bottom line is that if you have mild to moderate sleep apnea, oral appliances have been indicated as an appropriate first line choice of treatment if the patient desires,” she said.

Dr. VanDyke went on to add, “I feel this information is so important because from my own experience in talking with many patients they either love their CPAP or they hate it. Those who hate it are noncompliant and stop wearing it all together. Obviously when this happens the disease continues to get worse.”

The current national statistic failure with CPAP is 40 percent.

With this in mind oral appliances must be discussed as another form of treatment for this deadly disease.

“In the last two years I have pursued over 100 hours of continuing education on the subject of treating sleep apnea with oral appliances,” VanDyke said.

In order to be qualified to fit and adjust oral appliances in a dental setting, a dentist must also have training on the TMJ or the temporamandibular joint as well.

Studies now are indicating that over 50 percent of TMJ disorder patients also have sleep apnea.

It is also one of the major causes of nocturnal bruxing and grinding. “Therefore some of my recent training is also on this subject,” she added.

“If you’re tired of being tired all the time, maybe you need to consider getting a sleep study (done) to find out if you have mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea,” she said.

“CPAP is the gold standard for severe apnea, but there is another choice in the form of oral appliance for mild to moderate sleep apnea,” VanDyke noted.

For more information of the treatment of OSA with oral appliances, contact Dr. VanDyke at Sunset Dental Care in Conrad at (406) 278-3609.