What is Sleep Apnea?
People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have disrupted sleep and low blood oxygen levels. When obstructive sleep apnea occurs, the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and air flow stops. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears and the flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp.
Repeated cycles of decreased oxygenation lead to very serious cardiovascular problems. Additionally, these individuals suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, and loss of concentration.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- Loud, chronic snoring and long pauses in breath
- Choking or gasping while sleeping
- Feeling tired and sleepy throughout the day
- Waking up with a headache, dry mouth or sore throat
- Insomnia or constantly waking during the night
- Forgetfulness, irritability or depression
There are several treatment options available for sleep apnea. An initial treatment may consist of using a nasal CPAP machine that delivers pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask to limit obstruction at night. One of the surgical options is a uvulo-palato-pharyngo-plasty (UPPP), which is performed in the back of the soft palate and throat. A similar procedure is sometimes done with the assistance of a laser and is called a Laser Assisted uvulo-palato-plasty (LAUP). In other cases, a radio-frequency probe is utilized to tighten the soft palate. These are procedure usually performed under light intravenous sedation in the office.
In more complex cases, the bones of the upper and lower jaw may be repositioned to increase the size of the airway (Orthognathic surgery). This procedure is done in the hospital under general anesthesia and requires 1 to 2 days overnight stay in the hospital.
We also offer Sleep Apnea Devices including the TAP and Silent Night.
- Silent Nite is flexible, thin and comfortable, and it exhibits documented clinical success in mitigating or even preventing the disruptive, unhealthy effects of snoring and sleep apnea. It moves the lower jaw into a forward position, increasing space in the airway tube and reducing air velocity and soft tissue vibration. The connectors are easily interchangeable by the patient.
- TAP – A constricted or collapsed airway causes snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The TAP® was designed to keep the airway open and allow for air to pass. It holds the lower jaw in the forward position so that it does not fall open during the night and cause the airway to collapse.
Your Health and Quality of Life
Treating obstructive sleep apnea is incredibly important to your health. When left untreated, sleep apnea often causes excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue, as well as morning headaches and memory loss. Sleep apnea also is a threat to your safety as it increases your risk of drowsy driving and workplace accidents. Untreated sleep apnea raises your risk for serious health problems.
If you suspect that you or your sleeping partner may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, we invite you to contact our office today to schedule a consultation with our experienced, caring team. We look forward to helping you discover a sleep apnea solution that best suits your unique needs. Finally enjoy the restful, peaceful sleep you need and deserve with our state-of-the-art sleep apnea technology. Our warm, welcoming office is privileged to serve the comprehensive oral healthcare needs of families from throughout Richmond, VA and the surrounding areas.
Sleep Apnea Questionnaire
Based on the score of this questionnaire, our dentists will determine a patient’s probability of suffering from sleep related disturbances, and can suggest a home sleep study to confirm or rule out disturbances. Based on the results of the study our team and tailor a custom treatment plan to treat sleep apnea.
Get help today to improve your sleep and your health!