Meet Our Sleep Apnea Specialist
Kenneth Hilsen, D.D.S.
Dr. Hilsen is a pioneer in the field of oral appliance therapy for the treatment of snoring and sleep apnea. He is a charter member and past President of the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and is on the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Sleep Society. He is boarded by the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine in the area of sleep dentistry. Dr. Hilsen is a member of the credentialed staff at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck and is on the Medical Advisory Panel at the Valley Hospital's Center for Sleep Medicine.
Complementing his treatments, Dr. Hilsen has also developed and patented his own oral appliance for helping patients with sleep apnea. The device, similar to a retainer, is custom-fit to the patient and placed inside the mouth. It positions the jaw forward increasing the space that is taken up by the tongue, and allows for more air to be taken in with each breath, decreasing and even eliminating snoring.
How is Dentistry Related?
Through the use of oral appliances, rather than costly surgery and recovery time, specialized dentists are able to help those with sleep apnea and snoring-related problems. The airways that become blocked during sleep are closely related to the jaw and mouth which are very familiar to dentists. Through technological advances and more accurate studies, dentistry has become a vital role in helping people solve even minor sleep disorders.
Oral appliances used by sleep specialists are similar to orthodontic treatments. They require minimal visits and do not involve cutting or surgery of any type. It is more cost-effective, and may be covered by some insurance.
Learn About Sleep Disorders
People often think that snoring is a basic component of sleeping. However, snoring can point to many problems that may be occurring during a person’s rest. It is believed that 45% of American people snore occasionally, while 1 out of 4 snore frequently and may have problems associated. Some types of common sleep disorders are obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, teeth grinding, and frequent urination and bedwetting.
When a sleeping disorder is present, a person is not getting a full night of rest. People who have trouble breathing usually do not fall asleep completely and lose over 2 hours of sleep each night.
Sleep apnea, the most common disorder, is believed to affect approximately 18 million adults and can cause many subsequent health issues such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and put strain on the heart increasing failures and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, many of these people go undiagnosed due to the difficulty in realizing when a sleeping disorder is present.
The disorder is caused by the blockage of the airway, often by the tongue, causing your body to wake up and grasp for air. When you wake up, the airway becomes unblocked. Most people who do this through the night will not remember, and likely have no idea as to why they feel groggy and exhausted when they wake up.
How Can I Tell If I have Sleep Apnea?
The most common symptoms of sleep apnea are ones that seem normal, such as snoring. However, frequently waking up tired and unfocused, along with snoring, is more indicative of a sleeping disorder. If someone observes that you are doing any of the following during sleep, you should seek medical treatment:
- Gasping for air
- Holding of breath frequently for prolonged periods of time
People with the most severe cases of sleep apnea will hold their breath for over thirty seconds, and is very harmful to the body and you should seek immediate treatment.
If you believe you may have a snoring or sleep problem, please contact us at either the Wanaque (973-839-0900), or Nutley (973-661-3368) office to make an appointment with Dr. Hilsen.