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Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea : It's a Breathing Problem!


What is Sleep Apnea?

Apnea is defined as the absence of breathing or the want to breath.

When there is a cessation of airflow at the mouth and nose for more than 10 seconds an apnea episode has occurred.  If you experience 30 or more apnea episodes during a seven-hour sleep period, then you are suffering from Sleep Apnea.

Severity of the Apnea depends on the frequency of apnea episodes.

5-15 episodes per hour.............................Mild

15-25 episodes per hour..........................Moderate

>30 episodes per hour.............................Severe

These episodes can last anywhere from 10 to 120 seconds each, terminating with partial awakening.  A typical patient may have as many as 300 episodes per night.

What is Snoring?

Snoring is not sleep apnea!  It is caused by a change in airflow through the nasal and pharyngeal tissues.  The log-sawing noise comes from efforts to force air through an airway that is not fully open causing it to vibrate.

Snoring can be categorized:

Benign snorer:  snores but experiences no physical problems

Severe snorer:  also suffers from apnea

Snorers who suffer from Upper Airway Resistance:  they do not suffer from apnea but their breathing is so labored that it wakes them up numerous times throughout the night.  This leaves them unrefreshed and tired in the morning.


Five Negative Effects of Snoring and Sleep Apnea

1.  Relationships and marital discord.

Loud snoring disrupts the sleep of the snorer's bed partner.  This can be a source of great frustration and anger in their relationship.

2. Heart attack, atrial fibrillation, stroke and even death.

It is estimated that 38,000 people die each year from the effects of sleep apnea.

3. Industrial and traffic accidents caused by daytime sleepiness and fatique.

People with this problem have a three times greater risk of having an auto accident.

4. Lost productivity at home and work.

This is due to daytime sleepiness because of a lack of restful sleep at night.

5. Depression

This is a result of the loss of productivity, relationship discord, accidents, and finally health problems.

Danger Signs & Symptoms

• Waking up tired after a full night's sleep
• Falling asleep at inappropriate times
• Waking up with a headache


Do you have a snoring problem? Please fill out this questionnaire



What is the problem?


    Snoring and sleep apnea are breathing problems that result when the airway becomes partially closed.  This occurs when the muscles of the throat and tongue relax and sag, causing an obstruction of the airway.  This makes breathing labored and noisy.  Collapse of the airway blocks breathing entirely.   As pressure to breathe builds, muscles of the diaphragm and chest work harder eventually uncorking the airway.  When these interruptions of breathing occur, oxygen in the blood drops causing your blood pressure to rise and your heart to work harder.   Over a period of time these episodes of apnea can cause an irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, enlargement of the heart, increased risk of heart failure and stroke as well as death.

The tongue falls back in the airway and can cause a partial obstruction and snoring.  A complete obstruction will lead to apnea and serious health complications.


Dental Appliances: How Do They Work?


The dental appliance is similar to an orthodontic retainer which is worn during sleep.  It functions to prevent the soft tissues from collapsing and obstructing the airway. With the appliance in position the tongue cannot drop back to alter or obstruct the flow of air.

     How They Function
            • It brings the lower jaw forward
            • It holds the tongue forward
            • It lifts a drooping palate 
     Advantages of Dental Appliances
            • They are small and easy to wear.
            • The total cost of therapy is considerably less than other alternative treatments such as throat surgery and the CPAP machine.   
            • The treatment is reversible and non-invasive.


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