Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the medical term used when referring to a sleep disorder that is characterized by an intermittent failure to breathe during sleep due to some type of physical obstruction that repeatedly blocks the airway. The body struggles to breathe but cannot – the effort can go on for 10, 20, 30 seconds or more. When the blockage is finally cleared, gasps for air, snorts and/or choking sounds occur as the body resumes normal breathing. Until the block happens again.
For years, individuals with OSA have been treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP); however, oral appliances as a first line therapy for sleep apnea may be able to address a patient’s obstructive sleep apnea without the need for expensive, bulky and uncomfortable equipment.