Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common disorder that greatly affects a person’s quality of life when it goes untreated. To diagnose sleep apnea accurately, a sleep study is needed. This is because this condition involves an inability to breathe for small amounts of time because airways are obstructed. Since sleep studies monitor inhaling and exhaling, they can pinpoint periods of apnea down to their duration and their frequency of occurrence during a sleep cycle. After the results of a sleep study are available, patients can then take their results to a dentist or oral surgeon for consultations on their treatment options.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea literally means that a person ceases to breathe during sleep due to airway blockage. These periods of apnea can occur hundreds of times during one’s daily rest and can last for up to sixty seconds. As a person stops breathing, the brain will send signals to wake the sleeper slightly. While a sleeper may not fully wake up, the sleep cycle will be disrupted, preventing the progression through all four stages of sleep and REM. Over time, untreated OSA will cause sleep deprivation and a myriad of health and mood problems related to sleep deprivation. There is a wealth of evidence that suggests that sleep apnea is related to pulmonary and cardiovascular health issues, too.
Who is at risk for sleep apnea?
OSA can affect anyone of any age but there are higher incidences of sleep apnea among people who:
- Drink alcoholic beverages at nighttime
- Have bulky throat tissue
- Use medication with sedating effects
- Are overweight or obese
- Have developmental or congenital abnormalities of the jawbones and their alignment
How is OSA treated?
OSA can be treated in a few different ways. Some patients benefit from wearing oral appliances that widen the airway while others might need to use a CPAP machine that emits a stream of air through nose and mouth to keep oral tissue from blocking airways. Patients with nasal and oral abnormalities may require oral surgery.
If less invasive treatments have proven unsuccessful, we recommend scheduling a consultation with one of our surgeons. Call our team today to schedule an appointment!