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What Is Sleep Apnea or Sleep Disordered Breathing?

Sleep Disordered Breathing is a term that encompasses a continuum of symptoms and diagnoses. Some sleep disorders are due to physical abnormalities that can be treated by a physician, while other disorders can be treated with a physician and a dentist working together. People with Sleep Disordered Breathing may “only” snore, or they may have lower oxygen saturation and slight arousals during sleep because their airway may partially collapse, or they may actually stop breathing multiple times per night.

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Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea can be life-threatening due to the repeated episodes of the cessation of breathing or reduced oxygen. This is usually because the muscles in the back of the throat are not able to keep the airway open. The result is that not enough oxygen gets to the heart and brain. The brain sends signals to wake up or to gasp for air. Many times people are not aware that they are being woken up; they are still asleep but they have changed from one level of sleep to the next higher level. Without the proper amount of REM sleep, people feel fatigued the next day even if they think they have had a long night’s sleep.

Hypopnea in adults is when there is a 10-second event during which there is continued breathing but in which ventilation during sleep is reduced by at least 50% from baseline. Apnea is the total cessation of airflow for at least 10 seconds. Some people have 30 or more episodes of apnea a night; which puts them at great risk. Studies indicate that people with sleep-disordered breathing die years earlier than those who do not have sleep issues.

Who Is at Risk for Sleep Apnea/Sleep Disordered Breathing?

  • Men with a neck measurement over 16.5 inches or women with a neck measurement over 15 inches
  • Anyone who snores
  • Males have a higher likelihood than females
  • Anyone with hypothyroidism
  • Anyone who has been told they gasp during sleep
  • Anyone with a body mass index (BMI) over 35
  • Anyone over the age of 50
  • Anyone with a history of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, or depression
  • Anyone who struggles with daytime fatigue
  • Anyone with morning headaches
  • Anyone who has difficulty concentrating during the day

Why Does Library Park Dental Care About Your Sleep?

We care about our patients and their health. Oral health can affect the rest of the body, and problems with sleep can also affect oral health.

There are a variety of treatments for patients who have sleep-disordered breathing. Library Park Dental is proud to announce that the doctors and staff have undergone additional training and are now able to partner with physicians to help treat sleep-disordered breathing. Each patient has a unique situation, and while some will need a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, others will benefit from an individualized oral appliance similar to a mouthguard.

​Partnering either with your primary medical doctor or with a doctor in consult with our dentists, you can take a sleep study in the privacy of your own home. This study will track your oxygen levels, the number of times that you have obstructed breathing, or even if you have cessation of breathing. Based on the results of that study, the doctors will explain your options for treatment of this serious condition.

If you have sleep apnea, the gold standard of treatment is a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine.

However, many people either refuse to wear the mask or cannot wear the mask for some reason. In that case, treatment with an individualized oral appliance would be a good second option. For those who have sleep disordered breathing that has not progressed to sleep apnea, an oral appliance may also be the treatment choice.

In order to create this individualized oral appliance, the dental team at Library Park Dental tests your upper airway by using a state of the art acoustic signal technology. This diagnostic system is used as an objective assessment. The acoustic pharyngometer is able to provide a graphical representation of airflow. It measures the dimensions of the airway through the oral cavity and 25cm down the pharynx. The technique is minimally invasive and results are available in real-time. You will be able to see the graphs showing the site and severity of airway obstruction as well as changes that occur in airway tissues as a result of mandibular (jaw) advancement or other treatments.

If you or a loved one has shown symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing then contact Library Park Dental today to set up a consultation. We will discuss your concerns and your symptoms and talk about the next step so that you can achieve optimal health. For expert dental care, give us a call and schedule an appointment. Reach out to our office by calling 262-654-6535 at your earliest convenience!