Sleep Breath Disorders

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder in which you have one or more breathing interruptions or blockages while you sleep.

In the condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the throat is blocked, leading to the inability to breathe. An apnea is defined as “a cessation of airflow for at least 10 seconds.” People with sleep apnea stop breathing while they sleep, sometimes hundreds of times a night, sometimes for a minute or longer. Sleep apnea affects 25 million Americans of all ages.

Typically, someone with obstructive sleep apnea will snore heavily, then stop breathing. The bed partner will observe a struggle to breathe. These periods of lack of breathing are followed by sudden attempts to breathe, often accompanied by a gasping or choking sound. The person with OSA will partially awaken leading to fragmented, non-refreshing sleep which can be the cause of excessive daytime sleepiness. The lack of breathing also causes the oxygen level in the blood stream to fall, leading to multiple medical problems.

Symptoms of sleep apnea:

  • Loud snoring
  • Choking and gasping during sleep
  • Memory loss
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Depression
  • Drowsy driving
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Clenching and grinding (bruxism)
  • Morning jaw pain
  • Morning headaches/migraines
  • Lack of dreaming
  • Difficulty falling asleep/staying asleep
  • Rapid weight gain

Sleep Apnea Diagnosis

We work with board certified sleep physicians who administer home sleep studies and which  record breathing data wile you sleep. The data from the study known as an Overnight Polysomnogram are analyzed by a board-certified sleep doctor who works with Dr. Vogel.

Treatment Options: Good sleep hygiene (it’s best not to sleep on your back), weight loss if necessary, and regular exercise are some helpful OSA treatments patients can practice on their own. Medical and dental treatments include Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT), and surgery.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): This is pressurized air generated from a bedside machine like a ventilator. Air is delivered through a mask, covering the nose. The force of the pressurized air pushes the airway open.

Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral appliances can be worn in the mouth to treat snoring and OSA. These devices are similar to orthodontic retainers or occlusal guards. This appliance is utilized to maintain an open, unobstructed airway in the throat.

Oral appliances work in several ways:

  • Repositioning the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula
  • Stabilizing the lower jaw and tongue
  • Increasing the muscle tone of the tongue

There are many different oral appliances available. Approximately 40 appliances have been approved through the FDA for treatment of snoring and/or Sleep Apnea. Oral appliances may be used alone or in combination with other means of treating OSA. These treatments include holistic management through weight loss and myofunctional therapy, surgery, or CPAP/APAP.

Dentists with training in Oral Appliance Therapy are familiar with the various designs of appliances. They can determine a customized device specific for your needs. The dentist will work with your physician as part of the medical team in your diagnosis, treatment, and on-going care. Determination of proper therapy can only be made by joint consultation of your dentist and physician. Initiation of oral appliance therapy can take from several weeks to several months to complete. Your dentist will continue to monitor your treatment and evaluate the response of your teeth and jaws