If you answer YES to more than 2 questions below, you are at risk for having a sleep related breathing disorder:
- Snoring – Do you Snore Loudly (loud enough to be heard through closed doors or your bed-partner elbow you for snoring at night)?
- Tired – Do you often feel Tired, Fatigued, or Sleepy during the daytime (such as falling assleep during driving)?
- Observed – Has anyone Observed you Stop Breathing or Choking/Gasping during your sleep?
- Pressure – Do you have or are being treated for High Blood Pressure?
- Body Mass Index – More than 10% over ideal range?
- Age – Older than 50?
- Neck Size – (Measure around Adams apple) Male is your shirt collar 17″ or larger? Female, is your shirt collar 16″ or larger?
- Gender – Male?
If you answered yes to more than 2 questions, schedule a consultation with our practice.
Do You Suffer From Sleep Apnea?
If you snore loudly, it may be keeping everyone in your household awake at night, but in some cases, snoring is more than just a nuisance. Heavy snoring could be a symptom of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles at the back of your throat collapse during sleep, causing your airway to become blocked. Although snoring is often the most noticeable symptom of sleep apnea, your physician will have to perform a sleep study to accurately diagnose this condition. In addition to heavy snoring, sleep apnea can also be characterized by gasping, pausing or ceasing to breathe and waking up abruptly. You may also experience headaches, fatigue and difficulty concentrating throughout your day, as a result of poor sleep the night before.
According to statistics, 4% of middle-aged men and 2% of middle-aged women suffer from OSA (obstructive sleep apnea). However, this is not just a condition that only affects adults. Obstructive sleep apnea is frequently diagnosed in children as well.
Approximately 50% of snorers have obstructive sleep apnea. However, not all people with obstructive sleep apnea snore.
While anyone can develop obstructive sleep apnea, several factors, including the ones below increase the risk of developing the condition:
- BMI – A body mass index of 25 or more as well as obesity with a BMI of 30 or higher
- Gender – Obstructive sleep apnea is three times more common in men than women. The risk for women increases after menopause
- Age – The prevalence of OSA increases with age, especially over the age of 60 years
- Neck Size – A neck size of 17” or more for men and 16” or more for women
- Jaw growth and facial structure – some patients with obstructive sleep apnea exhibit a recessed or “retrognathic” lower jaw
- Large tonsils and adenoids – Restrict airway volume
- Certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, acromegaly are associated with sleep disordered breathing
- Habitual alcohol consumption – Alcohol causes muscle relaxation, which affects the soft tissues in the airway to exacerbate symptoms of sleep apnea
Diagnosing Obstructive Sleep Apnea
In many cases, another member of the household is the first to alert their spouse, significant other, family member, or roommate of potential sleep apnea symptoms exhibited while sleeping.
Adults or children who exhibit signs or symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing are referred to a sleep medicine physician for a complete sleep evaluation. In this way, unhealthy fluctuations in oxygen levels while sleeping can be measured.
How a Sleep Study is Performed
Sleep testing simply involves wearing a medical device while sleeping to monitor vital signs as well as other parameters. This assessment can be performed as a supervised polysomnography in a medical facility or via a home-based sleep study using specialized equipment. While an overnight somnography provides clues as to how sleep deprivation and fragmentation affects the brainwaves and monitors your breathing, awakening, and movement during different stages of sleep, a home sleep study offers a more convenient option that allows one to sleep in their own bed. At-home sleep testing monitors and documents breathing patterns as well as respiratory events. The physician will recommend which method of testing is appropriate.
Translating the Results of a Sleep Study into Treatment
Once the study is completed the physician will interpret the data to make a diagnosis and then recommend which type of sleep apnea treatment best addresses your needs. As a highly skilled and experienced dental sleep medicine practitioner, Dr. Ochoa will design, fabricate, calibrate, and monitor your prescribed oral appliance therapy.
Oral appliances for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and snoring are fully customized based on a complete analysis of the anatomy of your oral cavity and precise impressions of your teeth. Looking much like a mouthguard or orthodontic retainer, a custom sleep apnea appliance prevents the collapse of soft tissues at the back of the oral cavity by repositioning and stabilizing the jaw in a forward position. What this does is keep the airway open and patent for a healthier and more restorative night’s sleep. At the office of Precision Dental Care, Dr. Ochoa uses the finest dental laboratories to fabricate the highest quality of FDA-approved oral appliances.
The Importance of Follow-Up Sleep Testing and Care
While oral appliance therapy offers an effective option in care, follow up visits and an additional sleep test after an oral appliance is inserted are required. In this way, Dr. Ochoa is able to confirm the efficacy of treatment as well as adjust and calibrate the appliance for maximum benefits. Unfortunately, residual symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea can result in continued daytime sleepiness and further harm to your overall health and well-being. By undergoing sleep testing while wearing the appliance, the correct mandibular position, which is critical to optimizing the benefits of an oral appliance can be better ascertained.
In addition to sleep testing, regular follow up visits with our office not only monitor appliance compliance and efficacy, but also allow us to evaluate how treatment with an oral device affects the ongoing health of the surrounding oral structures and integrity of the occlusion.
Did you know that as much as one out of two individuals with sleep apnea don’t know they have it? If you believe that you or a loved one may be suffering with sleep apnea, contact our office today!
Dr. Stacy Ochoa is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine.