If friends and family joke about your loud snoring, it’s time to stop laughing and take it seriously. Loud snoring, especially loud snoring followed by silence and a gasp for air, is the most common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea.

When obstructive sleep apnea goes untreated, it increases your risk for serious problems like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and Type 2 diabetes. Here at Broward ENT Services, we provide at-home sleep testing to determine whether you have sleep apnea and prescribe nonsurgical treatment such as the highly effective SomnoGuard® oral appliance.

Obstructive sleep apnea basics

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing for 10 seconds or longer while you sleep. Why do you stop breathing? Because the muscles that support the soft tissues in your mouth relax. As a result, your tongue slides toward the back of your throat and partially or completely covers the airway where your mouth and nose meet.

When your airway is partially blocked, the tissues vibrate as air flows by, which causes snoring. If the airway is completely blocked, you stop breathing and oxygen levels in your blood drop. Before long, your brain sends out an alert that wakes you up just enough to take a breath.

In most cases, you don’t fully wake up so you’re not aware of your snoring or the apnea episode. Other people in your household are usually the first to comment on your loud snoring. They may also notice a cycle in which snoring is followed by brief silence (when you stop breathing), then a gasping or choking sound as you take in air again.

Dr. DuMornay is an expert in several surgical procedures that can help treat sleep apnea, but surgery usually isn’t the first choice. He also specializes in treating obstructive sleep apnea with the SomnoGuard oral appliance. Before receiving an oral appliance, however, it’s essential to first determine whether you actually have sleep apnea.

At-home sleep study to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea

To check for obstructive sleep apnea, Dr. DuMornay offers an at-home sleep study kit. The kit consists of a portable device that collects information about your breathing and oxygen levels while you sleep in the comfort of your own bed.

Dr. DuMornay shows you how to use the components in your at-home sleep study. You place several sensors on your body, which all connect to the portable monitor:

  • Sensor placed over your finger measures oxygen levels
  • Elastic band placed around your chest measures breathing
  • Nasal cannula placed in each nostril measures air flow

After you use your at-home sleep study kit, you return it to Dr. DuMornay, who analyzes the information to determine whether you have obstructive sleep apnea. When sleep apnea is diagnosed, the severity of your problem is determined by the number of apnea episodes per hour:

  • Fewer than five episodes per hour: Normal
  • Five to 15 episodes per hour: Mild sleep apnea
  • 15 to 29 episodes per hour: Moderate sleep apnea
  • 30 times per hour or more: Severe sleep apnea

Dr. DuMornay prescribes the SomnoGuard appliance when you have mild to moderate sleep apnea.

How the SomnoGuard appliance treats obstructive sleep apnea

Your SomnoGuard appliance consists of two pieces, called trays, that fit over your upper and lower teeth like a mouthguard. Dr. DuMornay fits your oral appliance by softening the two pieces and molding them to your teeth.

The two trays connect together in a way that moves your lower jaw slightly forward. Since your tongue connects to the jaw, this movement opens the airway and ensures your tongue stays in a forward position rather than collapsing back toward the airway.

Dr. DuMornay customizes your appliance by precisely positioning the lower tray in a forward position that’s optimal for your mouth. Although the appliance holds your jaw steady, it’s comfortable and allows for breathing through your mouth.

The SomnoGuard appliance has been recognized by the United States Food and Drug Administration as a safe option for patients suffering from mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. The appliance successfully lessens your symptoms, making it an excellent treatment option for those who can’t tolerate or prefer not to use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).

SomnoGuard as an alternative to surgery

SomnoGuard offers a very effective, nonsurgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea for most patients. However, there are some cases when surgery may be preferred to an oral appliance. For example, Dr. DuMornay may recommend surgery when your sleep apnea is severe and you have a medical condition that blocks your upper airway.

When you develop symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, such as snoring and daytime sleepiness, call Broward ENT Services for a thorough evaluation and to learn if you’re a good candidate for treatment with the SomnoGuard oral appliance.

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