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A breathing disorder is the relaxation of soft and/or hard tissues in the oral or nasal airway passages that obstruct breathing while you sleep. This obstruction can range from mild to severe in nature. Snoring, Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome and Obstructive Sleep Apnea are all sleep breathing disorders.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the soft tissues at the back of the throat close off the airway and the flow of air into the lungs. This blockage in turn, reduces the amount of oxygen to the brain and body. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the brain alerts the muscles to tighten and the throat opens up again, the sleeper partially awakening with a loud gasp. Untreated sleep apnea is a serious health condition that can be associated with high blood pressure, heart problems and stroke.

  • Loud snoring
  • Restless sleep
  • Breathing stops
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability

The first step is recognizing the symptoms and having a conversation with your primary care physician. Based on your signs and symptoms, you may be referred to a Sleep MD for further evaluation through a study that monitors your body functions and breathing during sleep. Tests to detect sleep apnea may include:

  • Nocturnal polysomnography (PSG) –These are done at a certified sleep center and are referred to as “in lab sleep studies”. Equipment monitors your arm and leg movements, blood oxygen levels, heart, lung and brain activity and breathing patterns.
  • Home sleep tests (HST) – The Sleep MD may provide you with a portable monitoring device to use in the comfort of your own home. The device is worn overnight and captures data on your heart rate, blood oxygen levels, airflow and breathing patterns. Portable monitoring devices cannot detect all cases of sleep apnea, so a polysomnography may still be recommended.

Treatment for sleep apnea is done with lifestyle changes, oral appliances, breathing devices and surgery. Lifestyle changes may include losing weight, sleeping on your side to keep your throat open, avoiding or minimizing alcohol intake, and smoking cessation.

  • CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) is the most common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea. The machine, which fits over your mouth and nose, or just over your nose, gently blows air into your throat. The pressure from the air keeps your airway passage open while you sleep.
  • Oral appliances are used in treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea, in combination with CPAP for more severe cases, or for individuals who cannot tolerate a CPAP. Oral appliances can also be used to treat snoring. The oral appliance is a small acrylic device, worn during sleep, which fits over the upper and lower teeth. The appliance advances the lower jaw slightly forward, opening up the airway to reduce snoring and apneas during sleep.

Yes. Dr. Brigg’s is certified in the treatment of snoring using Fontona’s NightLase® therapy. NightLase is a non-invasive laser treatment which tightens tissue. Laser pulses penetrate heat into the tissue causing the collagen to contract. NightLase consists of three treatment sessions scheduled 21 days apart. If results diminish, therapy can be repeated.

Whether your treatment consists of CPAP or oral appliance, on-going monitoring is essential. Those choosing CPAP therapy will have remote monitoring provided by their durable medical equipment provider.

If using an oral appliance Dr. Briggs will make adjustments to the appliance to obtain the best possible results. When the apnea symptoms have improved and Dr. Briggs is satisfied with the results of the adjustments, you will be referred for a post-treatment evaluation and sleep study. The efficacy of the treatment must be confirmed by a sleep study (in-lab or home sleep test) and evaluated by a certified sleep physician.

After the initial consultation, there may be 3 – 4 appointments within the first 6 months. Thereafter, you will be placed on an annual or semi-annual recall. Follow-up appointments are required to check the effectiveness of the appliance and the success of your OSA treatment. Failure to maintain these follow-up appointments will constitute a lack of compliance with the recommended treatment plan. Any decision on your part to forgo follow-up appointments places your health at risk and increases the probability of complications and treatment failure.

Although insurance plans vary widely, there are a few general statements that can be made. First, most dental insurance companies do not cover treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. Second, if coverage is available for oral appliances, it would come from the medical insurance carrier. Finally, insurance companies generally do not cover treatment for snoring only. However, many medical insurance companies provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep breathing disorders including home sleep testing, continuous pressure airway devices (CPAPs) and oral appliances.

At AZ Sleep and Snoring Center treatment recommendations are based on what we believe to be the best option for improving your sleep and overall health. We work with you to understand the cost of treatment and the impact of insurance to help you make an informed decision.

Every plan or policy provides different levels of coverage. We will do our best to explain how your insurance benefits might assist you with costs prior to treatment. We are in-network with many insurance companies and many policies offer some limited coverage with services provided out-of-network. We encourage you to call and check with your medical insurance company.

Not at this time. Therefore, payment is required at the time of service.

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