People suffering from sleep apnea can turn to Rogers, AR, dentist Dr. Ettienne Van Zyl for help. Dr. Van Zyl and his team of dental specialists can create a special oral appliance for sleep apnea patients to wear at night. This oral device has proven to be very effective at keeping the airways open while a patient sleeps, thus minimizing the risk for disruptive breathing patterns.View transcript
Sleep apnea really has just surfaced over the last five years. It seems like it's been one of those that have been under diagnosed and under managed for many, many years. And a lot of symptoms in patients have experienced that they're taking medication for very often can be linked back to sleep apnea. I don't have a sleep center, I don't do sleep studies, but what I'm able to do for patients is to make an oral appliance that helps to keep the airway open physically. C-paps which a lot sleep physicians prescribe for patients with sleep apnea, basically are machines that force air down a collapsed airway. Some patients do really well with a C-pap and there's no problem with that. The people that I can help are those who do not tolerate the C- pap machine. Some people don't like to be restricted, don't like to have a hose on their nose all night long and sometimes the hose doesn't stay on. They pull it off without knowing and then the benefit of the C-pap is lost. What we found is that the compliance rates of people wearing the oral appliance is much greater than the ones with the C-pap. For successful therapy I believe, the oral sleep physicians, say that the patient needs to wear or use the C-pap four nights a week for six hours each night. My question is what happens for the other three nights of the week? What we found is that there's some much greater incidences of heart attacks early in the morning very often because the heart was overstressed because the patient couldn't breathe. One of the sleep classes that I attended, they sent each one of the doctors out with a sleep monitor to the hotel room so they could see what we all experience at night. So one of the doctors knew that he had sleep apnea but left the sleep appliance out so he could see, we could see from what he was going through each night. The average oxygen concentration that should be in the blood should be about 95 and 98 percent. This doctor spent 75 percent of the night below 80 percent. At one point when the apneic episode lasted for almost a minute his heart rate went to 183 bpm because what happens is the heart wants to pump whatever oxygen is left in the blood around the surface as fast as it can. So the heart gets really stressed at night when you can't breathe. Another thing that starts with sleep apnea is gastric reflex. A lot of people would take a little purple pill, the Nexium pill when it very possible could be that they have sleep apnea. And once that's managed properly they don't have to take medicine for gastric reflex. So what I'm able to do is I'm able to relax the jaw muscles, the muscles around the airway also relaxes because the same nerves relate to those muscles. So when I can control what the jaw muscles would do and the muscles in the head would do are also physically dilating the airway. Basically what the appliance does it just physically holds the jaw forward and open so that the airway doesn't collapse. Same principle we use and CPR. Tilt the head back, pull the chin forward. It opens up the airway so this is just a physical way of holding the airway open so patients can breathe and not snore and feel refreshed in the morning.