About Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Recently the general public has become increasingly aware of sleep apnea which is being diagnosed at sleep centers throughout the United States. The reason for this exposure is because research has shown sleep apnea’s relation to many medical problems. There are now many television and newsprint stories highlighting obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is linked to:
- Heart Attacks
- High Blood Pressure
- Fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness
- Family Discord ( because of loud snoring )
- Decreased Sex Drive
- Cardiac Arythmias
- Myocardial Ischemia
- Cerebrovascular Disease
- Pulmonary Hypertension
- Poor work performance
Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when the muscles in throat relax and the tongue completely blocks the airway. With no breathing, the body’s oxygen level drops and the heart rate increases. When the sleeper’s lack of oxygen is sensed by the brain, the person awakens or partially awakens, gasping for breath to restart airflow. People are not usually aware of these apneas or “awakenings” but because they do not get restful sleep, they exhibit excessive daytime sleepiness.
Treatment of OSA with Dental Sleep Medicine
Oral appliances are classified a first line treatment for snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Their recommendation is that dentists with proper training and education provide this treatment for patients.Oral appliances maybe used in the following situations:
- Snoring only
- Snoring and sleep Apnea
- Patients who are unable to tolerate CPAP
Statistics General Information about Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
- Over 20 million people in the U.S. have OSA.
- 4% of men and 2% of women have OSA.
- Most sleep apnea remains undiagnosed and untreated.
- Nearly 50% of OSA patients have high blood pressure.
Risk Factors for OSA
- Being overweight – Obesity is a risk factor even though thin people can have OSA.
- Increasing Age
- Family History
- Alcohol and certain medicines
- Maxillomandibular Anatomy – Having a small jaw, large tongue or small airway opening
- Nasal blockage or obstruction
- Male gender
- Neck size exceeding 17 inches in men and 15 inches in women
Health Consequences of OSA
- People with untreated OSA have a higher incidence of morbidity and mortality than those without OSA. In other words a higher incidence of sickness and death.