Sleep apnea (alternatively sleep apnoea and abbreviated as "OSA") is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. These episodes, called apneas (literally, "without breath"), each last long enough so one or more breaths are missed, and occur repeatedly throughout sleep.
People afflicted with sleep apnea rarely (if ever) are aware of having difficulty breathing, even upon awakening. Sleep apnea is recognized as a problem by others witnessing the individual during episodes, or is suspected because of its effects on the body (sequelae). The definitive diagnosis of sleep apnea is made by polysomnography (Sleep Study).
Incidence of OSA among the American population is relatively high, especially among men.
It has only recently been appreciated that OSA can be a serious health condition and that its prevalence in the population, especially in men, is quite high. Evaluation, treatment and management of OSA is the provenance of the Sleep Specialist who is a physician with specialty training in various sleep disorders. The Cleveland Clinic's Sleep Disorder Center is the first stop in evaluation for OSA or any sleep disorder.
Custom-fabricated oral appliance, also called a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD).
Oral appliances can sometimes be helpful in the treatment of OSA, particularly in moderate to mild OSA, but are not considered first-line treatment.
Prosthodontists, in particular, maxillofacial prosthodontists are comfortable and familiar with fabricating and using such appliances. Clinic prosthodontists work closely with sleep specialists in the Sleep Disorder Clinic and throughout the region, when other treatment modalities are not effective in the treatment of OSA.