Sleep Apnea Treatment

Treatments for sleep apnea

sleep-apnea-treatment-beverly-maRecently a commercial was aired on television that showed a woman covering her head to shut out the noise of her husband’s obnoxious snoring. Many jokes and much teasing have taken place because of problems with snoring. Snoring occurs in both men and women, although it is more prevalent in men. In recent years, research has discovered that snoring may be more than a nuisance. It may be a danger to one’s health.

Snoring occurs when the soft tissues of the upper airway collapse, which narrows a person’s airway. When the attempt is made to force air through this narrow airway during expiration, the tissues vibrate, producing the snoring sound. The health condition sometimes produced by snoring is termed obstructive sleep apnea, (OSA). Simply put, apnea is a cessation of breathing. OSA is apnea that occurs during sleep.

It is estimated that 18 million Americans suffer from OSA. Common symptoms are sleeping or sleepiness during the day and snoring at night. Some individuals actually stop breathing as often as a hundred times in one night. Those at risk are individuals with high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome and most of all, obesity.

There are two methods of classifying OSA

It can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe. Apnea can also be classified as central sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea is the least common type. In central sleep apnea, the brain fails to send messages to the respiratory muscles to perform the act of breathing. During obstructive sleep apnea, air cannot flow out of an individual’s nose or mouth even though the muscles involved in respiration are attempting to move air in and out.

The most frequent cause of obstructive sleep apnea is obesity. The extra fat around the patient’s throat causes the tissues in the airway to collapse. This usually occurs if the individual is sleeping on his or her back. The tissues that comprise the front of the throat collapse onto the back of the throat. The person actually stops breathing for several seconds or even a couple of minutes and may wake up gasping for air.


Sleep apnea is associated with irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Therefore it is imperative that it be detected and treated early.The greatest danger of OSA is damage to the heart. The cessation of breathing causes a decrease in the oxygen and an increase in the carbon dioxide levels in the blood. The brain reacts by releasing epinephrine, causing the heart rate to increase. Heart arrhythmias may also occur, which are irregular heartbeats which increase the chance for heart attack and stroke.

In order to diagnose sleep apnea, a patient usually submits to what is called a sleep study. He or she checks into a sleep center, where the individual’s sleep patterns are monitored by professionals. If obstructive sleep apnea is diagnosed, the most common treatment is the CPAP machine.

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It produces pressure during expiration to keep the throat open while the individual sleeps. The patient must wear a mask at night. The mask is hooked to a hose that connects to a machine that provides air and pressure. The mask must fit properly and is sometimes uncomfortable to the patient, not to mention the noise of the machine. It is also difficult to pack when traveling, and the different parts of the machine must be replaced on a regular basis. If the patient suffers from severe sleep apnea, and CPAP has been unsuccessful, surgery may be necessary. Surgery may involve removing the tissue that collapses during sleep. If this type of surgery is unsuccessful, a more complex surgery may be attempted in which the mouth and facial bones are reconstructed. However, there is a highly effective treatment that is totally NON-INVASIVE:   Oral Appliance Therapy

New dental appliance treatment

page-images-sleep-apnea-treatmentA new sleep apnea treatment has been developed that utilizes a dental appliance which looks much like a mouth guard worn by a football player. This mouth piece moves the tongue or lower jaw forward, which opens the airway and makes it easier to breathe. These appliances are recommended as a first line treatment for those with mild to moderate sleep apnea, and as a treatment for those with severe OSA but who cannot tolerate the CPAP machine.

This special dental appliance is fitted by a dentist like Dr. Ben Polan, Beverly Dentist,  trained in  dental sleep medicine. The oral appliance is approved by the National Institutes of Health, the American Sleep Apnea Association, and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.  These are also FDA approved. There are many advantages to using this apparatus.

This special FDA approved, custom made oral appliance is fitted by a dentist trained in dental sleep medicine. The apparatus is approved by the National Institutes of Health, the American Sleep Apnea Association, and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. There are many advantages to using this apparatus. It is small, fits easily into the mouth and does not cover the face with a mask. It is easy to pack when traveling. It is also easy to drink while wearing, and very easy to talk while wearing it.  

Choosing a dentist to treat OSA is an important, life changing decision. Dr. Ben Polan is a trained sleep disorder dentist in Beverly, Massachusetts. He is the owner of the Center for Exceptional Dentistry and Dental Sleep Medicine. He combines aesthetic dentistry and neuromuscular dentistry, which qualifies him to treat temporomandibular dysfunction, or TMJ. Dr. Polan trained at the Somnomed Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and the Allentown Pain Center, The Elite Dental Center and The Tufts Dental School Mini-REsidency Program in Sleep Apnea.

His expertise in dental sleep medicine qualifies him to treat patients with sleep apnea, using the newly developed appliance to control the disorder. Dr. Polan possesses exceptional skill in cosmetic dentistry, but his overriding concern is improving the health and well being of his patients.  Check our testimonial page to read about our patients’ experience with this treatment from Dr. Polan.

To watch testimonials from our actual patients, click on and click on sleep apnea.