Sleep apnea is the temporary stoppage of breathing during sleep, often resulting in daytime sleepiness. The Greek word “apnea” literally means “without breath.” There are three types of apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed; of the three, obstructive is the most common.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. With each apnea event, the brain briefly arouses people with sleep apnea in order for them to resume breathing, but consequently sleep is extremely fragmented and of poor quality.
Risk of sleep apnea may be increased if we have a family history of sleep apnea, are obese, are a man or a post-menopausal woman, grind your teeth, have a large neck circumference, are a loud snorer, have large tonsils, or have consumed alcohol before bed.
Untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease, memory problems, weight gain, impotency, and headaches. Moreover, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for job impairment and motor vehicle crashes. This is why we have made a concerted effort to diagnose sleep apnea in our practice.
At no charge to our patients we allow our patients to borrow pulse oximeter and recorder that allows us to generate a free sleep apnea screening report. When indicated we use this to inform patients, and the patient’s physician or a neurologist, regarding the potential need for a formal sleep study.
Depending on the severity of sleep apnea and the physician’s diagnosis and referral we will make an oral appliance that can stop the apnea and restore the patient to a restful night’s sleep. If you feel that you are experiencing sleep apnea discuss it with your doctor or come to see us at Jones Family Dental, we offer this vital screening at no charge to our patients. Make the end of your summer great!