One out of Every 15 People in the U.S. are Affected by Sleep Apnea,
now Ellis Dental in St. Louis Offers a Convenient Solution
An estimated 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of the most common is obstructive sleep apnea, afflicting at least 25 million adults in the United States. Translated as “want of breath,” sleep apnea is a serious issue that can cause a person to stop breathing several hundred times per night, anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute. Left untreated, sleep apnea can be life threatening. It can also dramatically increase the risk for many serious health issues including high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.
St. Louis based Ellis Dental is now offering its patients an easy and convenient solution for both diagnosing and treating sleep apnea. As a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), Dr. Holly Ellis treats patients for mild to moderate sleep apnea through oral appliance therapy. This innovative method is an effective and alternative treatment to the standard continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine – the traditional, yet unpopular, treatment for the disorder.
“During their annual check-up, I am now routinely asking patients about their sleep patterns, as part of our approach to their dental care and general overall health,” Ellis said. “We want to discover if any common indications of sleep apnea are present.” These could include:
- Loud, frequent snoring
- Breathing pauses – a bed partner may hear a person gasp for breath in their sleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (the ability to fall asleep anywhere, at any time)
- Memory problems
- Irritability or moodiness
- Decreased sex drive or impotence
- Morning headaches
- Acid reflux, indigestion or heartburn
“If a patient is having any symptoms, we will provide them with a simple, easy-to-use home test,” Ellis said. Patients take the sleep test in the comfort of their own bed, utilizing the latest technology, and results are recorded for three consecutive nights. Patients do not have the inconvenience of traveling to an unfamiliar location or the frustration of attempting to get a restful night with all sorts of gadgets attached to them. “Once the at home test is completed, I work closely with a board certified sleep physician to analyze the results and subsequently work with the patient to create a custom made oral appliance to treat their sleep issue.”
Dental sleep medicine is a growing segment of dentistry which focuses on managing snoring and sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy, a proven and effective alternative to the standard CPAP machine and mask. According to the AADSM, up to 50 percent of sleep apnea patients do not comply with or tolerate CPAP. Compared with a CPAP machine and mask, oral appliances are less cumbersome and more discreet for both the snorer and their partner. In addition, surveys reveal that single adults are also twice as likely to prefer oral appliance therapy over CPAP therapy. “Sleeping with a CPAP machine, which includes a face mask, tubing and a constantly running motor, can be difficult. Most people are unaware that an effective and comfortable alternative treatment is available,” Ellis said.
Studies indicate oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option that offers a higher rate of patient compliance than CPAP. “Our team individually works with our patients, as well as our sleep physician partners, to identify the right oral appliance device, custom fit devices to each patient and make any needed adjustments to ensure an open airway and a more restful sleep.”
In contrast to a CPAP machine, oral appliances are a mouth guard-like device worn only during sleep to maintain an open, unobstructed airway. Patients like oral appliance therapies because they are comfortable, easy to wear, quiet, portable, and caring for the appliance is easy. “The devices are also covered by many insurance plans,” Ellis said. “So the patient’s out-of-pocket cost is typically minimal.”
To learn more, call Ellis Dental today at 314.965.1334 or request an appointment online.