Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea
What is sleep apnea? How is it diagnosed? How can it treated by your dentist, and how can it improve your quality of life? These are some questions that I hope to be able to answer for you to shed some light on a very serious condition that afflicts up to 40 million Americans.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a debilitating sleep-related breathing disorder defined as the cessation of breathing for 10 seconds or more. During sleep, the muscles in your body relax, including those in your mouth and airway. This causes an obstruction and blocks airflow to the lungs, which in turn signals your body to wake up in order to start breathing again. These events can happen anywhere from a few times an hour up to 30 or more. It is easy to see how such events can interfere with a good night’s sleep, and also an individuals quality of life.

If left untreated, OSA has been shown to be correlated with heart disease, strokes, and excessive daytime sleepiness. In order to diagnose sleep apnea, a sleep study is done, whereby your sleep pattern is evaluated by a sleep physician. If you are diagnosed with severe sleep apnea, treatment with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device is the only treatment of choice. However, for mild to moderate cases, your dentist may be able to fabricate a device for you to wear during sleep that is much less cumbersome than a CPAP, and can also treat your OSA. These sleep devices work by gently repositioning the lower jaw to increase the airway space, leading to less interruptions in sleep and an overall better night’s sleep. These devices come in several different varieties and your dentist can determine which would be best for you.

Many times an individual will be unaware that they are waking during these events at night, and oftentimes their partner will hear them snoring or interruptions in breathing.  Risk factors for OSA include individuals with low muscle tone, those who are obese, have a narrow airway, and have high blood pressure and/or diabetes. If you think that you may have OSA, mention it to your dentist at your next check up appointment, there may be options available for you that could make a big difference in your sleep pattern and drastically improve your overall quality of life.

Dr. Chris Chapman is a dentist practicing with Dr. Julie Pruneski at Whispering Pines Dental located at 690 Cooper Foster Park Road in Lorain, Ohio.  Dr. Chapman is a member of the American Dental Association, Ohio Dental Association, and Greater Cleveland Dental Society. To reserve an appointment with Dr. Chapman or Dr. Pruneski, call 440-282-2023 Check us out on Facebook at

Posted in