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Dr. Ralph R.: Well, sleep apnea is sort of a buzzword now. Most people have heard of it. When I first took my first seminar on that was over 30 years ago, and no one had even heard of it. We know now that this sleep apnea or people ceasing to breathe for lengths of time while they’re sleeping causes a lot of health problems. It causes high blood pressure, is probably the most common. Fatigue during the day where people don’t realize it, but when they’re having a massive breath like that, when they get hypoxic at night, they wake up probably hundreds of times a night and don’t even realize it though, and they’re having fatigue during the day.
Dentistry, we can’t really claim to treat sleep apnea because that would require a sleep study to be able to make the diagnosis for that, but we do what a lot of the people call “snore guards” or the dental appliances, and that’s basically what we call a mandibular advancement device, that if you were to make a snoring sound, you’d put your jaw back. You make a restricted opening in the back of your mouth, and the air vibrates your soft palate. If you remember just back to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, the first thing was to pull the jaw forward. So, if someone is making a snoring sound and they move their jaw forward, it’s impossible.
The airway gets enlarged, so it’s a matter of not only fitting a device but determining how much opening or how much protrusion of the jaw is needed to create the airway that they need so that they’re not obstructed. As opposed to the other alternatives, which are the CPAP machines, which, they’re getting a lot better, but they’re still pretty cumbersome as far as wearing and sleeping with at night, especially if you travel or you go camping. The dental device can be a lot quicker, easier fix kind of thing for the problem.