Sleep Disorders - Get Diagnosed and Get Treated For Better Health


More and more, we are learning the effects that poor sleep or lack of sleep have on our health and well being. More than 50 million Americans have some form of sleep disorder and most have not been diagnosed. Why is this important? A report on Morning Edition discusses the problems and offers solutions.

Not getting proper restorative sleep has been linked to heard disease, diabetes, increased risk of accident and perhaps Alzheimer’s disease. Not only does poor sleep make you feel exhausted and foggy during the day, it can set you up for serious, long term health problems.


Usually people seek help for sleep problems because someone complains about their snoring, or because they feel extremely tired and sleepy throughout the day. The first step is to seek a diagnosis by having a sleep study. Sleep studies can be done in a sleep lab or, a more common choice for many, using a home sleep test. Once the sleep test has been completed, the results are read by a sleep physician and a diagnosis is made.

One common sleep disorder is called obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea causes the sleeper to stop breathing during sleep.  Breathing stops because the airway becomes blocked by the tongue or other soft tissues of the mouth and neck. A partial blockage is what causes snoring. A complete blockage means that no oxygen is getting into the body — the brain will sense that oxygen levels are falling and briefly waken the sleeper, who gasps and begins breathing again — until the airway becomes blocked again. This can happen a few times each hour for milder cases or hundreds of times per night for more serious cases.

Treatment for obstructive sleep apnea used to mean one thing – a CPAP machine. While CPAP is a wonderful way of managing obstructive sleep apnea, about half of patients cannot tolerate the masks, tubing and noise from the machine. Many people simply abandon treatment and ignore their apnea symptoms.

Today we have another highly effective treatment option – an oral appliance! Oral appliances are small devices that look similar to an orthodontic retainer. These devices gently place the jaw in a forward position that naturally keeps the airway open during sleep. Snoring and sleep apnea can be successfully managed without masks, tubes and electricity!

Find out more about obstructive sleep apnea and whether you are a candidate for treatment using an oral appliance by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.