What is Sleep Apnea?

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What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea. It affects as much as 20% of the adult population in the United States. Many have never been diagnosed and don't know that they have a very serious medical condition. OSA occurs when the entire upper airway is blocked causing air flow to stop. This cycle, where breathing stops repeatedly, happens anywhere from 5-100 times per hour. This means the brain, and the rest of the body, may not get enough oxygen.

Snoring is an important warning sign of OSA. It occurs when the flow of air through the nose and mouth is physically obstructed. This common condition can affect anyone and should not be mistaken as normal. In addition to snoring, other symptoms of OSA include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Waking up gasping and choking
  • Interrupted sleep patterns
  • Irritability
  • Morning headaches
  • Depression
  • Acid reflux
OSA has been associated with several health complications. Stroke, heart attack, diabetes, fatigue, drowsiness, hypertension, and obesity are just a few links to sleep apnea. And if not taken care of, OSA can make these issues worse over time.

According to the AASM (American Academy of Sleep Medicine),

An oral appliance is an effective treatment option for people with mild to severe OSA who either prefer it to CPAP or are unable to successfully comply with CPAP therapy. Oral appliances help to maintain and open an obstructed airway by repositioning or stabilizing the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate, or uvula. Some designed specifically for snoring, and others intended to treat both snoring and sleep apnea. They should be fitted by dentists who are trained in sleep medicine.

At Crown Point Dental Care we are trained to identify signs of snoring or sleep apnea. We can treat you with a small oral device (mouth piece) that you wear when you sleep. This device sets the jaw in a slightly forward position which opens your airway and prevents it from collapsing. Physicians can also refer patients to qualified dentists for oral appliance therapy.

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