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Innovative Dentistry

New Sleep Apnea Relief Offered by K.C. Sykora DDS – Family and Implant Dentistry

It sounds almost too strange to be true:  A person’s inability to get a good night’s sleep might be part of a human genetic story that goes back hundreds and likely thousands of years.

Research by anthropologist Robert Corruccini, conducted over the past 30 years, demonstrates that the skulls of humans living more than 400 years ago show very little evidence of malocclusion (crowded teeth and jaws). This is likely related to eating behavior, because back then, children were breastfed for two or three years and then ate a diet composed of hard, tough foods, such as dried meat and hard root vegetables. They had very little incidence of crooked teeth.

By contrast, contemporary Americans have notably crooked teeth and small jaws. And underdeveloped jaws, it turns out, have a more sinister outcome than just crowded and crooked teeth.

Local dentist Dr. K.C. Sykora says he believes these small, modern jaws are at the root of the current epidemic of sleep apnea.

“When rigid jaws are underdeveloped, the tongue is forced backward and spills into the area where air needs to pass from the mouth and nose to the lungs. This is the source of most obstructive sleep apnea,” he says.

“Dental schools have traditionally taught us to be tooth doctors who focus on cavities, gum disease, root canals, broken teeth and the like. Recent extensive continuing education has given me new eyes and caused me to think like a 'mouth doctor.' For a mouth doctor trained to look for signs, there are many pointing to underdevelopment of the jaws, and it absolutely shocks me how many people exhibit these signs,” adds Dr. Sykora.

In addition to a full spectrum of general and implant dental services, Dr. Sykora is now offering a revolutionary new treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. 

OSA is diagnosed by sleep-certified physicians primarily from data obtained during sleep studies that measure a variety of physical inputs. While CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines and traditional oral appliances can treat the symptoms of OSA, Dr. Sykora says he believes that with the emergence of a new family of oral appliances, the possibility of treating the root cause of OSA may be within reach. 

He says this new therapy depends on activation of stem cells located where facial bones join together and in the fibers that hold the teeth into the jaws. Intermittent mechanical signaling of these stem cells through the use of an innovative, specific oral appliance epigenetically triggers growth of the jaws and airway.   

This new device, called the Vivos appliance, is non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical, painless, and was cleared for use by the FDA, states Dr. Sykora. "Multiple clinical trials are underway, which seem likely to confirm results of thousands of individuals who've seen dramatic improvement in their OSA symptoms, with many of them no longer needing a CPAP machine. This also good news for those diagnosed with OSA who, for various reasons, are unable to tolerate a CPAP," he adds.

Before undergoing this therapy, patients go through a rigorous diagnostic process that identifies what is “off” in terms of proper jaw and skull relationships. Once that 3-D diagnosis is obtained, designing the proper configuration of the appliance is relatively straightforward, says Dr. Sykora, who adds that treatment times range from one to two years, and also may be paired initially with chiropractic and myofunctional therapy for best results.

Only dentists who have undergone specific training by Vivos Therapeutics have access to these appliances.