It is estimated that 42 million Americans have Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  There are 3 types: mild, moderate, and severe.  It is estimated 1 in 5 adults has mild OSA while 1 in 15 adults and moderate to severe OSA.  75% of OSA patients remain undiagnosed.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – is a blockage of the upper air way while sleeping resulting in the cessation of breathing for 10 seconds or longer.  There are only two outcomes when you have an apnea event your body starts breathing by waking up with a “micro arousal” or you don’t.

Our bodies produce and regulate many important hormones while we sleep.  Continuous interruption of sleep stops that process along with impairing cognitive functions. There are many health complication associated with OSA including: Obesity, Hypertension, Depression, Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, Cerebral Vascular Disease (stroke), and excessive sleepiness.

Risk factors for developing Obstructive Sleep Apnea increase with age and weight.  Other risk include Hyperthyroidism, the use of sedative-hypnotic drugs, and being male.   Men are 5-10 times more likely to have OSA than women.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea can only be diagnosed with a sleep study.  Until recently sleep studies required the patient to go to a sleep center but now they can be done in your own home.  Dr Philipp can help you set up an at home sleep study.

Routinely the individual with obstructive sleep apnea is not the first to notice the signs. OSA often is initially perceived by someone who watches the patient sleep. However, numerous individuals who have OSA have no sleep grumblings or signs.

The most well-known sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea is snoring or labored or irregular breathing while asleep.  Other signs or symptoms include: Lack of energy, Morning headaches, Hypertension, Frequent nocturnal urination, Depression, Obesity, Large neck size, Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS),Gastroesophageal reflux(GE reflux).

Once you have completed a sleep study and have been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea you have multiple treatment options.  There is a surgical option; it is very painful and has had only limited success.  There is a machine call a CPAP which is 99% effective at treating OSA.  However, 75% of patients do not tolerate the CPAP machine.  The CPAP consists of a mask you strap to your face while you are sleeping and the machine blows air under positive pressure through your airway.  It is very uncomfortable and the machine is very noisy often causing restless sleep for anyone in the same room.  Also, you must sleep on your back and hold perfectly still or you will break the seal on the mask and the CPAP will not be effective.

Patients with mild to moderate OSA could use a dental appliance to open their airway instead of the CPAP machine.  The appliances work by physically moving the tissues causing the obstruction out of the way. There are many kinds of appliances available so only a dentist who is trained in treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea patients can determine the best one for you.  Wearing your appliance is similar to wearing a night guard or retainers.   Patients with severe OSA cannot use a dental appliance as a replacement for a CPAP but they can use a dental appliance in conjunction to lessen the negatives associated with the use of a CPAP.


Important Links

Obstructive Sleep Apnea 

Mayo Clinic