Sometimes sleep apnea can be quite disruptive to you and your loved ones. It’s no fun for your family members who wake up in the middle of the night from loud snoring. Or it can be uncomfortable to always feel lethargic and tired throughout the day, even after a full night’s sleep.
Oral mouth guards are used for sleep apnea, but do you need a sleep study before being treated for sleep apnea with an oral appliance?
Yes. Sleep Apnea is only diagnosed by a board-certified sleep physician. Since there are multiple types of sleep apnea, a sleep study is needed to determine what type or combination of types that a patient has. It detects the frequency and intensity of a patient’s apnea, any decreases in blood oxygen, and other conditions which can disrupt your sleep.
It should be noted that certain types of apnea cannot be treated by an oral appliance.
Why Do You Need a Sleep Study to Get a Sleep Apnea Oral Appliance?
There are various forms of sleep apnea and different types of oral appliances designed for each specific case. If you think you have sleep apnea symptoms, speak with a healthcare professional. Your physician will likely ask you to undergo a sleep study.
Polysomnography, more commonly known as a sleep study, will determine whether you have sleep apnea and what type of sleep apnea you have. If diagnosed, your doctor will begin discussing possible treatment options for you. Your doctor will review your complete medical history to see if you’re possibly a candidate for an oral appliance.
If you are a candidate, you should be referred to a dentist that has specialty training in sleep apnea treatment. The dentist will perform a thorough examination to determine if you will be able to use, so they can manufacture the right type of oral appliance to provide the best results for the patient.
Even after you’ve received your sleep apnea oral appliance, you’ll need to have follow-up appointments with your dentist and doctor. They will ask you to take another sleep study to determine whether the mouth guard treatment is effective.
It’s imperative that you get properly diagnosed and treated by seeing a licensed sleep professional before taking any action. Buying over-the-counter oral mouthguards can have significant side effects. Custom oral mouth guards are made and tested to fit your mouth so that it’s comfortable and doesn’t cause any harm.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
If you think you may have obstructive sleep apnea, here are some symptoms to look out for:
- Loud snoring that disturbs other people’s sleep
- Excessive daytime fatigue causes you to fall asleep during normal activities
- Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth
- Sudden moments of stopped breathing while asleep
- Waking up abruptly followed by choking or gasping
These are some potential signs of sleep apnea, and you should contact your doctor immediately, where they may request a sleep study.
What is a Sleep Study (Polysomnography)?
A sleep study, also known as polysomnography, is a test that doctors use to diagnose whether a person has a sleep disorder. It records your breathing, heart rate, the oxygen level in your blood, and your brain waves during the study.
A sleep study may also be utilized to adjust their existing treatment plan. Polysomnography can be done in many places, such as a sleep center, a hospital unit, or even at home.
How to Get Diagnosed for Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea usually occurs when a person’s breathing is erratic, where they may start and stop breathing very rapidly. For example, if you had a full night of rest and generally snore loudly but still wake up feeling tired, then you may have sleep apnea.
Your doctor will have to evaluate your symptoms, sleep history and perform a sleep study to determine whether you have sleep apnea.
Polysomnography monitors and analyzes your sleep cycles to identify when are why your sleep patterns are disrupted. There are various sleep tests that you can take to detect sleep apnea, which includes:
- Home Sleep Studies: These are simplified tests that measure your blood oxygen level, breathing patterns, air flow, and heart rate.
- Nocturnal polysomnography: In this study, a person will be evaluated by equipment that monitors your breathing patterns, lung and brain activity, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and arm and leg movements.
If your results are abnormal, the sleep physician will review the data and reports to determine the cause. For example, if your oxygen levels are low, it’s a good chance that something could be obstructing your airways.
In the case where your physician believes you have obstructive sleep apnea, they will likely refer you to various specialists such as a heart doctor, neurologist, or sleep dentist to look for causes of the sleep apnea. From there, these specialists may recommend a variety of treatment which includes CPAP, customized oral appliance, or surgical intervention to fit your specific issue.
How to Prepare for a Sleep Study?
In order to prepare for the polysomnography, you will likely be advised to avoid caffeine and alcohol during the afternoon and evening before the sleep study. These stimulants can affect and even worsen your sleep disorders, which will also affect the results. Napping prior to the sleep study is discouraged. If you’re taking a home sleep apnea test, all of the equipment will be delivered to you. You’ll also receive instruction on how to use the equipment to get the most accurate results.
What to Expect from a Sleep Study Test?
Full polysomnography may require that you sleep overnight at a sleep center. You’ll be permitted to bring all of your night clothes and items needed for your normal bedtime routine. Most likely, the room will be quiet and dark to help with your sleep..
The sleeping room will have an audio system to hear you from their monitoring area and a video camera to see what is happening while asleep. Once you’re ready for bed, a technologist will place sensors on your legs, chest, temples, and scalp. These sensors will transmit data through wires to a computer. The wires are quite long, so you’ll still be able to move around while asleep. Lastly, a small clip is placed on your ear or finger to analyze the oxygen level in your blood.
If you get a home sleep study, you’ll need to position the sensors onto your body and have the machine running while asleep. Once the sleep study is finished, the sensors will be removed, and you’ll be asked for a follow-up visit with the doctor to go over the results.
What Will the Results Tell You?
Polysomnography will give you a lot of detailed information about your sleep patterns. For instance:
- Changes in blood oxygen and breathing rate that are abnormal may indicate that you have sleep apnea
- Changes in heart rates
- Eye movements and brain waves can help the health care team identify disruption in the cycles that are caused by various types of sleep disorders
- Body movements that can be disruptive to sleep