Sleep Apnea

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

OSA is a disorder that involves the cessation of breathing on a repeated basis during ones sleep. These episodes of not breathing can last anywhere from a few seconds to longer than a minute in time. A person can have this occur several hundreds of times in one night.

How common is OSA?

OSA affects approximately 25 million Americans. That means that 1 out of every 12 people is affected.

Am I at Risk for OSA?

Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, even children. Risk factors for sleep apnea include:

  • Male gender
  • Being overweight
  • Being over the age of forty
  • Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women).
  • Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jawbone.
  • Having a family history of sleep apnea.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD
  • Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems

What Are the Effects of OSA?

If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart attacks
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Worsening of ADHD

In addition, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for poor performance in everyday activities, such as at work and school, motor vehicle crashes, as well as academic underachievement in children and adolescents.

How serious is OSA?

It is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. The risks of undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea include heart attacks, strokes, impotence, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart disease, and possible death. In addition, obstructive sleep apnea causes daytime sleepiness that can result in accidents, lost productivity and interpersonal relationship problems. The severity of the symptoms may be mild, moderate or severe.

How can a dentist treat my sleep apnea?

A dental device similar to a retainer can be fabricated for OSA sufferers. These devices are comfortable, affordable, and allow OSA sufferers to breath more normally once again. Oral appliances are covered by health insurance.

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