We recently were featured as a guest blogger on ExploreHolistic.com, an inclusive and forward-thinking educational platform designed to boost awareness, understanding, and acceptance of holistic health. We wrote about Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), focusing particularly on a particular sleep apnea patient and how NightLase® helped open the patient's airways. Check it out below!
Patient "Joe", age 64, was seen in the office for an oral appliance for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Being a diabetic, Joe was suffering from regular disturbances in his sleep where he would stop breathing multiple times. This was documented by his sleep study and diagnosed by his physician as Moderate Sleep Apnea. The study recorded that he had 17 events of obstruction of the upper airway each hour during his sleep. This caused a significant decrease in airflow.
Sleep studies monitor & measure oxygen saturation, heart rate, airflow, stages of sleep, body position, leg movements, snoring, and movement in the chest and abdomen.
Scores are reported to be Normal, Mild, Moderate or Severe depending on the number of respiratory events per hour that cause a significant decrease in airflow.
The dangers to health from Sleep Apnea include serious life shortening consequences such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression.
Joe was often tired during the day and state that he would most often fall asleep sitting and watching TV. He had difficulty remembering things. A big annoyance to Joe's spouse was that he snored loudly, often waking her up.
Joe had tried Over the Counter (OTC) sleep aids and devices. He tried nasal strips and nose cones. He sought the help of his medical provider who prescribed a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), but Joe couldn't tolerate wearing it.
His doctor referred him to me in 2014 to have a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) fabricated. The MAD oral appliance is an upper and lower appliance that helps maintain an open airway by bringing the lower jaw down and forward. That likewise takes time to adjust to wearing, but Joe persevered. After five years wearing the MAD, however, Joe still had problems sleeping.
At a five-year follow-up appointment to check his MAD, Joe was managing well with his oral appliance we created. He heard about this effective procedure that could keep his airway open 24/7 and was interested in learning more.
I spoke to him about NightLase® as an adjunct to his MAD. NightLase® is a laser treatment to change the collagen fibers in the soft palate (the area behind our molars and before our throat) into our "younger" collagen fibers. The heat of the pair of lasers tightens the collagen over three weeks.
There is no recovery period, no restrictions following the procedure, no change in voice, no swelling, no scalpels or stitches. NightLase® increases sleep quality by opening the airway. Unlike CPAP or MADs that only work when worn during sleep-time, NightLase® keeps the airway open 24/7. There is no appliance to wear and no compliance necessary from the patient.
The non invasive, no-anesthetic process of NightLase® takes three appointments that take about 20 minutes, three weeks apart. The soft palate feels a bit scratchy the evening of the procedure. The patient is evaluated 12-18 months following the procedures to evaluate if a touch up treatment is necessary. It is expected that NightLase® will last 12-24 months.
We completed a series of 3 NightLase, laser procedures on Joe to non-surgically change the collagen fibers to a tighter fiber, much like cosmetic laser treatments. This brought the soft palate (back of mouth) tissue up and forward, thus increasing the space of the airway.
I encouraged Joe to continue utilizing his MAD and have a two-night follow up sleep study following his NightLase® treatment. Only the results of the sleep study will tell us if continued use of MAD is necessary. It is a perfect solution for a person with a normal score that snores.
Joe feels so much better with an unobstructed and more free-flowing airway that he is ready to start running again in life! The patients are amazed and enthusiastic that we have a treatment that keeps their airway more open 24/7 without complications or devices!
The Holistic Path was chosen because many years of continuing education brought me to the reality that the body is an amazing healing machine given the opportunity. TMJ issues and symptoms are often helped by correcting a mechanical problem.
We rely on knowledge of anatomy and how the body generally responds to help the body heal. Watching people's lives change from shakes being eliminated to reduced headaches has made me want to continue to learn and understand more about the human body.
We are in the process of educating the medical and dental professionals about the benefits of NightLase®. Every patient has experienced a marked improvement in sleep quality. This has been documented by their FitBit.
Kingdon K. Brady, DDS
Craniofacial Pain & Sleep Center, PLLC
Fort Collins, CO United States