"Snoring is a common breathing disorder that occurs during sleep and is generally considered to be simply a nuisance. Snoring, however, can be associated with a more serious condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The effect on health and quality of life has made OSA a significant public health issue. There are millions of people who suffer from all degrees of sleep disordered breathing from simple snoring to severe OSA. All OSA patients can be considered snorers, but not all snorers have OSA. The National Sleep Foundation reports that as many as 18 million people suffer from OSA and as many as 90% of individuals with sleep apnea are un-diagnosed.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when the airway completely collapses, blocking airflow into the lungs. The harder one tries to breathe, the tighter the airway seals. This airway obstruction (stoppage of air flow) typically lasts 10 seconds or longer and persists until the brain partially awakens the person, unconsciously closing the jaw and returning the tongue and throat to a normal position.
The sleep apnea cycle falling asleep, jaw relaxing, airway collapsing, unconsciously awaking with a gasp, falling back asleep can repeat itself 50 or more times per hour during the night. With a blocked passageway, one does not receive enough oxygen. Both the awakenings and oxygen deprivation can then trigger other health problems, including chronic sleepiness, headaches, depression, exhaustion, high blood pressure, and even strokes and cardiac arrhythmias (heart attacks).
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has approved Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) as a first line of treatment for patients diagnosed with mild to moderate OSA. The AASM also recommends oral appliances for patients with severe OSA, who are unable to tolerate or cannot wear Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices. Another option for people with severe OSA is Combination Therapy (wearing CPAP and an oral appliance together) to help reduce the pressure on a CPAP machine, making it more comfortable to use."