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What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Get to the Bottom of Your Sleep Troubles

What happens if you have all the clinical signs of sleep apnea, like snoring, grinding your teeth, drowsiness throughout the day, lack of energy, and an inability to concentrate? What happens if you find yourself suddenly falling asleep, even during activities like sports events, or worst of all, while driving or operating heavy equipment? You know something’s happening, but you don’t know what it is. What should you do? For patients experiencing these kinds of problems, knowledge is always power.

Sleep apnea is a breathing problem, and it can range anywhere from mildly irritating to deadly. It is a result of the soft tissues and tongue collapsing into the back of the throat, blocking the passage of air to the lungs. In severe cases, people can actually stop breathing for well over a minute at a time. Usually, they finally are able to get air by shifting their lower jaw to open the airway—this is often why people grind and clench during sleep. In some cases, it is related to the bite, but in others, it is simply the body trying to get the lower jaw to move so that the airway opens up.

Snoring is important because it is usually the symptom that bed-partners are most aware of. Shoot, not just bed partners, but anyone in the house! Those of you who have experienced such a thing know that sometimes there is no quiet in the entire house.

Just for clarification, only a trained physician can diagnose Obstructive Sleep Apnea, but as a dentist, Dr. Teasdale has the ability to treat the grinding and clenching of the teeth (“bruxism”). Fortunately, the appliances that he makes for treating this problem quite frequently help drive down the seriousness of sleep apnea as well.

Let’s discuss the A-B-C’s of sleep apnea…
A.) is for Apnea, a sleep disorder that restricts breathing and can cause a wide array of conditions, including major medical maladies like diabetes and obesity.
B.) is for Bruxism, which is a subconscious grinding and clenching of the teeth during sleep. This is the result of the mind telling the muscles to move the lower jaw forward or the side to create an open airway in the throat.
C.) is for CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, which is a mechanical breather that forces air into the lungs.
D.) is for Dental Appliance, which, if designed properly, can prevent bruxism and open the airway and thus treat the OSA.

No single therapy works 100% of the time, but there are very few drawbacks to our sleep appliances. Essentially, the lower jaw is slightly shifted forward, and the airway in the throat opens up as a consequence. It is beautifully simple and requires no wires or machinery to wear. Call today to find out more!