Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Normal Anatomy and Function. Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Sleep Apnea / Snoring Therapy in our Office:

Here is the usual and customary way in which we treat patients suspected of having sleep breathing disorders. As a part of our medical history screening for health issues such as heart disease, osteoporosis, and other situations that may affect your treatment, we also screen all patients for sleep apnea.

If a patient has been previously diagnosed, or if they are uncertain of their condition we treat all patients the same. We set up a screening appointment to assess the possibility of sleep apnea being a concern. If the patient has previously been diagnosed we use this information as an aid in treatment decisions.

We then proceed to measure vital statistics such as height, weight, blood pressure, and neck size. All important in the evaluation. A set of questions, called the Epworth sleepiness scale is used to again determine a predisposition for Apnea. The oral conditions of the mouth, teeth and gums are also checked along with the tongue and its possible influence of airway constriction.

Using a device called a pharyngometer, we determine the ability of the patient’s airways to conduct airflow during normal breathing and in simulated sleep conditions. The pharyngometer also helps us to envision where the airway is limiting flow of Oxygen at night.

Based upon all the data we collect at this screening we decide as to what to do next. If it appears that there may be a sleep breathing disorder we suggest a sleep study be done. This can often be done in your own home or many times a sleep study center.  We then rely on the diagnosis of a Sleep MD. They are qualified to tell us if a sleep Apnea disorder is present, and the suggested ways to treat the condition. Often it is a slight airway disturbance causing snoring. This can easily be treated with a mouthpiece or mandibular repositioning device. However, Sleep Apnea is a serious condition and should not be left untreated.

In severe case a continuous positive airway (C PAP) device is suggested. This is the best form of treatment and when used properly is almost 100% effective in improving the airflow. Less severe cases can be treated by us with the oral appliance like the snore appliance.

Unfortunately, most patients prescribed the CPAP device do not wear it regularly. Whether it be due to discomfort, travel, bulkiness etc.., it is of no therapeutic use if not worn. These patients may then opt for an oral appliance to lessen the severity of the apnea.

Every patient is different. Our goal is ultimately to improve the health of our patients. These screenings have helped many undiagnosed persons improve their sleep and overall physical condition.  Working with the recommendations of a Sleep MD, we come up with a treatment plan to best serve everyone’s needs.

You know it instinctively: A good night's sleep is essential for good health. It makes you feel rested and ready to take on the world. Yet many people don't get the sleep they need. Sometimes this is related to sleep-related breathing disorders (SRBD) — their own, or those experienced by their sleeping partners.

SRBD is characterized by recurrent episodes of reduced or interrupted respiratory airflow. This is caused by soft tissues near the back of the throat collapsing during sleep so that they partially close off the windpipe. These tissues — the tongue, for example — can vibrate as air passes by, causing snoring. Snoring is often worsened sleeping on one's back because this encourages the lower jaw to slip back, which in turn pushes the tongue in front of the airway.

Loud snoring often disturbs the person in the bed who isn't the one doing it, robbing him or her of vital sleep. The snorer, on the other hand, may seem to be slumbering peacefully, but this might not actually be the case. Chronic loud snoring is a common symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA; “a” – without; “pnea” – breath), which occurs when the upper airway is blocked to the point of causing significant airflow disruption, or even no airflow whatsoever for 10 seconds or more. This can be dangerous as reduced airflow into the lungs lowers blood-oxygen levels.

A person with sleep apnea may wake 50 or more times per hour — that's almost once a minute! — without having any memory of it. These awakenings, called micro-arousals, last just long enough to restore muscle tone to the airway so the individual can breathe. Unfortunately, all those micro-arousals preclude deep and restful sleep.

What to Look Out For

Sleep Related Breathing Disorders.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a serious matter as it can lead to heart problems and other health issues. It's possible you may have OSA if you snore and also suffer from any of the following:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Poor memory/confusion
  • Accident proneness
  • Night sweats
  • Morning headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity

How Dentistry Can Help

Oral Appliance Therapy.By now you're probably wondering: What does my dentist have to do with all this? Here's the connection: Snoring or sleep apnea can sometimes be treated with an oral appliance available at the dental office that's designed to hold the lower jaw forward during sleep. This repositioning of the jaw moves the tongue away from the back of the throat, reducing the potential for obstruction. This treatment is backed by a great deal of scientific evidence; it's a good remedy to try before moving on to more complicated breathing devices or surgery to remove excess tissues in the throat.

Only a dentist can fabricate, fit, adjust, monitor, and treat complications associated with Oral Appliance Therapy used in managing SRBD. So if you or a loved one is experiencing any combination of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, a consultation with a dental professional is a good idea.

Our Equipment

Related Articles

Snoring and Sleep Apnea - Dear Doctor Magazine

Sleep Disorders & Dentistry If my partner snores loudly, should I be concerned and what can be done to alleviate the problem? Why does my sleeping partner have lapses in breathing while sleeping and is it dangerous? Why do I wake up exhausted even though I get up to 10 hours of sleep at night? The answers to these and other questions — and how dentistry can help — are all revealed within... Read Article

Snoring - Dear Doctor Magazine

Snoring & Sleep Apnea Snoring is annoying to those who have to listen to it, but it can also signal a serious health condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Individuals with OSA experience significant airflow disruption during sleep, which in turn can cause a variety of health problems. Learn what to look for and how your dentist can help... Read Article

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