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What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?


Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder. It causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep. There are several types of sleep apnea, but the most common is obstructive sleep apnea. This type of apnea occurs when your throat muscles intermittently relax and block your airway during sleep. A noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring. Treatments for obstructive sleep apnea are available. One treatment involves using a device that uses positive pressure to keep your airway open while you sleep (CPAP). Another option is a mouthpiece to gently hold your lower jaw forward during sleep. In some cases, surgery may be an option too.

NOTE:  Sleep Apnea can ONLY be diagnosed by a Medical Physician

What are some of the signs and symptoms of Sleep Apnea?


You may have Sleep Apnea if you have one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness

  • Loud snoring

  • Observed episodes of stopped breathing during sleep

  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by gasping or choking

  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat

  • Morning headache

  • Difficulty concentrating during the day

  • Experiencing mood changes, such as depression or irritability

  • High blood pressure

  • Nighttime sweating

  • Decreased libido

What are the risk factors of Sleep Apnea?


Anyone can develop obstructive sleep apnea. However, certain factors put you at increased risk, including:

  • Excess weight. Most but not all people with obstructive sleep apnea are overweight. Fat deposits around the upper airway may obstruct breathing. Medical conditions that are associated with obesity, such as hypothyroidism and polycystic ovary syndrome, also can cause obstructive sleep apnea.

    However, not everyone with obstructive sleep apnea is overweight and vice versa. Thin people can develop the disorder, too.

  • Narrowed airway. You may inherit naturally narrow airways. Or your tonsils or adenoids may become enlarged, which can block your airway.

  • High blood pressure (hypertension). Obstructive sleep apnea is relatively common in people with hypertension.

  • Chronic nasal congestion. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs twice as often in those who have consistent nasal congestion at night, regardless of the cause. This may be due to narrowed airways.

  • Smoking. People who smoke are more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea.

  • Diabetes. Obstructive sleep apnea may be more common in people with diabetes.

  • Sex. In general, men are twice as likely as premenopausal women to have obstructive sleep apnea. The frequency of obstructive sleep apnea increases in women after menopause.

  • A family history of sleep apnea. If you have family members with obstructive sleep apnea, you may be at increased risk.

  • Asthma. Research has found an association between asthma and the risk of obstructive sleep apnea.

When should I see a Physician about possibly having Sleep Apnea?


IMMEDIATELY Consult a medical professional if you experience, or if your partner observes, any of the following:

  • Snoring loud enough to disturb your sleep or that of others

  • Waking up gasping or choking

  • Intermittent pauses in your breathing during sleep

  • Excessive daytime drowsiness, which may cause you to fall asleep while you're working, watching television or even driving a vehicle


Many people may not think of snoring as a sign of something potentially serious, and not everyone who snores has obstructive sleep apnea. 


Be sure to talk to your doctor if you experience loud snoring, especially snoring that's punctuated by periods of silence. With obstructive sleep apnea, snoring usually is loudest when you sleep on your back, and it quiets when you turn on your side.

Ask your doctor about any sleep problem that leaves you chronically fatigued, sleepy and irritable. Excessive daytime drowsiness may be due to other disorders, such as narcolepsy.

NOTE:  Sleep Apnea can ONLY be diagnosed by a Medical Physician

What services are provided at the Center for Dental Sleep Medicine?

Once you are diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea by your Medical Physician, our specially trained team of dentists would then fabricate a customized Oral Appliance for you.  There are numerous styles and designs of Oral Appliances that can be fabricated, and we will work closely with you to craft one that fits your needs the best.

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