What is Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious condition affecting adults and children alike and has become more prevalent among our community. Sleep apnea is defined as a condition in which oxygen is cut off to the heart and brain in intermittent periods during sleep. The risk of sleep apnea increases with weight gain and age. Patients with OSA will experience shallow or halted breathing throughout the night but are typically unaware of these effects. Adult patients who suffer from sleep apnea may presents with symptoms of snoring and/or constantly feeling tired throughout the day, whereas children may present with increased hyperactivity and short attention spans.

The following are symptoms of OSA:

  • Snoring
  • Waking gasping or choking 
  • Fatigue
  • Mood changes
  • Acid reflux 
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • Headaches in the morning

As dental providers we can help screen for sleep apnea through patient interviews and completing airway exams during your routine dental visits. There are several oral symptoms you may take notice of including:

  • Eroded enamel
  • Teeth grinding (Bruxism)
  • Sore throat when you wake
  • Dry mouth
  • Worn or chipped teeth
  • Scalloped or large tongue

Untreated, sleep apnea can increase the risk of heart attack and reduce life span by 10-15 years (compared to 5-7 years with chronic smoking). The severity of sleep apnea is determined from a sleep study, collaborative treatment with your dentist and sleep physician that will help determine the best treatment modality for the patient. Sleep apnea has various treatment forms which can include oral appliance(s), Constant Positive Airway Pressure (C-PAP), or a combination of the two.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Mandibular Advancement Device

Treatment of OSA

In some cases, your dentist can provide oral appliance therapy to improve your breathing and ability to sleep. A custom oral appliance can open the airway by shifting the jaw forward. This shift can prevent the tissues from collapsing during sleep to reduce snoring and promote better breathing. Oral appliance therapy is often a popular treatment as it is non-invasive and is easy for patients to wear. 

To determine if a custom oral sleep appliance can help alleviate your symptoms, Dr. Ayoubi will examine your upper airway.  She has undergone professional training to offer patients oral appliance therapy using a personalized device which can reposition the jaw to open the airway.

Oral appliance therapy is a conservative approach that can potentially treat the symptoms of OSA. Oral appliances may not be the best option for all case of OSA, and Dr. Ayoubi will refer you to seek necessary diagnosis and treatment by a sleep physician. Based on your results, Dr. Ayoubi will coordinate care with your doctor to devise the most effective treatment plan.