Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea. It occurs when the soft tissues of your mouth and throat sag during sleep, blocking your airway and preventing you from breathing properly for several seconds. This can happen hundreds of times per night. It can be treated with lifestyle changes, a CPAP machine, or oral appliance therapy.
It is reported that about 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.
As a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, Dr. Torey Vande Walle can properly diagnose patients who may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. The same solution will not work for everyone, so individual consultation is important.
Once we know you have obstructive sleep apnea, we can discuss lifestyle changes, such as sleep hygiene and techniques and therapies for better nighttime breathing, which can reduce snoring and bring you more energy.
Dr. Torey Vande Walle fabricates OSA devices in-office so patients can get the treatment they need under one roof. These devices are similar to a mouth guard and ensure that your airway stays open while you sleep.
The most common type of sleep apnea is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This occurs when the airway is obstructed by oral tissues during sleep. Contributing factors to OSA include being overweight, use of alcohol and sedatives, smoking tobacco, nasal congestion, and genetic factors like a narrow mouth or throat.
Central sleep apnea (CSA) is caused by improper brain signals to your lungs, which cause them to stop breathing for short periods of time. It can be caused due to medical conditions like Cheyne-Stokes respiration, by damage to the brain stem, which controls breathing, or by the use of certain types of narcotic painkillers.
Complex sleep apnea (CompSAS) has combination symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
The most common symptom of sleep apnea is deep, prolonged snoring, which is accompanied by periodic interruptions in breathing during sleep. The patient will then gasp for air upon the resumption of breathing. Some patients might wake up from this.
Other signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include a dry throat and mouth upon waking, insomnia, poor quality sleep, morning headaches, drowsiness throughout the day, decreased sex drive, and irritability. If you recognize one or more of these symptoms in yourself or your sleeping partner, you can see a sleep specialist for a diagnosis.
Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is becoming more common in the treatment of OSA. In this treatment, your dentist will create an oral appliance, which looks similar to a retainer or a mouth guard. This device will shift the position of your jaw during sleep, keeping your oral tissue from sagging and holding your airway open through the night.
In addition, OSA can be mitigated or even eliminated by some basic lifestyle changes, such as ceasing smoking and alcohol use, avoiding narcotics or sedatives, losing weight, and changing the position in which you sleep.
Nearly 80% of the cases of obstructive sleep apnea go undiagnosed.
In the short term, sleep apnea affects the body by interfering with your sleep. High-quality, restful sleep is essential for your overall health and well-being, and your mental health. You may feel irritable and drowsy during the day, and have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep at night. You may also experience frequent interruptions in sleep.
In the long-term, sleep apnea is even more dangerous. Since it interrupts proper respiration and blood oxygenation, it can contribute to your risk of a stroke or development of heart disease. For that reason, it’s very important to get treated for apnea as soon as you can.
Sleep apnea is more than a snore. It usually involves loud, prolonged snoring that is accompanied by frequent pauses in breathing. When the person with apnea starts breathing again, they also usually make “gasping” or “choking” sounds. If you hear this pattern of breathing, it’s very likely that sleep apnea is causing it. If your sleeping partner snores frequently, but their sleep is not interrupted by pauses in breathing, it’s unlikely that they have sleep apnea.
In the short-term, sleep apnea can make you drowsy and inattentive due to poor-quality sleep. This can be very dangerous for people who drive frequently or for individuals who often operate heavy or dangerous machinery for work.
The long-term effects are even more dangerous. Moderate to severe sleep apnea has been linked with a 4x higher risk of stroke and a 4x overall higher increase in mortality (risk of death). In addition, sleep apnea has been linked with heart problems including coronary heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiac arrhythmia, and heart failure.
For all of these reasons, it’s important to work with a qualified sleep specialist and a dentist to understand the cause of your apnea, and get the care you need to breathe properly, treat your apnea, and get a restful night of sleep once again.
If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and heart disease.