Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Persistent snoring can pose a threat to your overall health, but that threat is exponentially higher when it indicates obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Snoring is a common symptom of OSA, which also involves the obstruction of your airway as you sleep. However, unlike snoring, sleep apnea causes your airway to close completely, stopping you from breathing for several moments until your body is forced to wake up and clear the airway. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea exhibit patterns of increasingly loud snoring, followed by moments of silence, and then a gasp as they breathe again, repeating the cycle. If you believe that you may have sleep apnea, then your primary dentist can recommend undergoing a sleep study at a trusted lab to measure your sleeping patterns.

Causes of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea’s main cause is oral tissues blocking and obstructing your airway as you sleep. However, OSA is more likely in patients who exhibit one or more common risk factors. For instance, obese patients may be more prone to OSA due to the weight of their oral tissues falling into their airways as they sleep. Some patients may be more prone to OSA due to family history, lifestyle choices, and more. Depending on your specific circumstances, your sleep apnea may be treated as simply as snoring—with a custom-designed appliance that you can wear while you sleep.

Treatment Options

Treating OSA means preventing the issues that allow oral tissues to block your airway. For many patients, that simply means wearing a custom-designed appliance that prevents airway blockage. For patients with severe cases of OSA, a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine may be necessary in lieu of, or in addition to, a custom oral appliance. To determine which treatment is right for you, your dentist may recommend visiting a trusted sleep medicine laboratory, where trusted professionals can observe your sleeping patterns and accurately diagnose your sleep apnea.