What is Sleep Apnea?

In this section, we are going to cover the various aspects of a disease officially called Obstructive Sleep Apnea. We will begin to explain what Sleep Apena is from an Adult and Pediatric perspective. We will continue to explain how this disease is diagnosed and finally end on the treatment options available. When you have finished this section, we hope you have a better understanding on this disease and how Naper Dental Center can help treat this disease.

Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

In September 1995 the American Sleep Disorder Association (ASDA) endorsed oral appliance therapy as the third currently acceptable treatment modality for snoring and sleep apnea. The two most common solutions include continuous positive air pressure or the removal of either the excess palatal tissue or the uvula.

Snoring

It has been estimated that 30 million or 1 in 8 people snore. Snoring is the sound produced when the tissues of the upper airway vibrate and collapse against each other to partially obstruct the airway. Enlarged adenoids, tonsils, and fat stores in the neck can contribute to one's snoring. Snoring is primarily a social problem, particularly for the spouse; however, it can be an indication of a more serious medical problem, such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Approximately 18 million people in North America suffer from sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the tongue and soft tissues fall back into the throat, completely blocking the airway. This is a significant health risk for the patient in that it can lead to irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. A person will often experience excessive daytime sleepiness as a result of sleep apnea. This is due to the fact that when oxygen levels fall significantly enough, the brain wakes you from deep sleep, causing you not to feel rested.


Three Types of Apnea

There are Basically three types of sleep apnea which a person can be diagnosed with. Each one of these types of Apnea have it's different sets of treatment and challenges.

Central Apnea

The upper airway is open, but no oxygen is getting into the system. This occurs because the patient is not getting a chemical response from the brain to stimulate the lungs and the diaphragm to assist with breathing.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The lungs and the diaphragm are functioning normally, but no oxygen is entering the system because there is an obstruction in the upper airway.

Mixed Apnea

This is a combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea. Oral appliances are only indicated for use in patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The signs and symptoms of OSA include snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, gasping or choking during the night, non-refreshed sleep, fragmented sleep, clouded memory, irritability, personality changes, decreased sex drive, impotence, and morning headaches.



SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

The signs and symptoms of OSA include snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, gasping or choking during the night, non-refreshed sleep, fragmented sleep, clouded memory, irritability, personality changes, decreased sex drive, impotence, and morning headaches.



FACTORS THAT AFFECT OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA ARE

  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol
  • Sedative Hypnotics (sleeping pills)

Children can also snore and suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Often they are highly allergic and their airway is blocked due to enlarged adenoids, tonsils or swollen nasal mucosa. Clinical signs would indicate a turned up nose, allergic darkness under the eyes, mucous draining out of the nose, mouth breathing, and a nasal sound to the voice. Other signs are bed wetting, irritability, difficulty in concentrating at school and hyperactivity.

At the present time, obstructive sleep apnea is defined as a medical problem and the diagnosis must be made by a medical doctor or sleep physician (Pulmonologist) who is specially trained in the area of sleep medicine. The dental profession has an important role to play in the treatment of patients with snoring and sleep apnea.

At the present time, obstructive sleep apnea is a medical condition that is being controlled and treated mainly by the medical profession. Despite the fact that in September 1995, the American Sleep Disorder Association finally endorsed oral appliance therapy as the third currently acceptable treatment method for snoring and sleep apnea, the vast majority of the medical doctors are not aware of the value of oral appliances.

As time goes on, the public is going to become more aware of the health risks associated with snoring and sleep apnea. It is the dental professional's responsibility to educate their members, the public and the medical profession about the important role that dentists and oral appliances play in the treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.

More on Sleep Apnea




Snoring Airway

Snoring

Apnea Airway

Sleep Apnea