Sleep Apnea

Do You Have OSA?
Advances in dental research continue to save Americans $4 billion a year.

If you suspect you have OSA, we encourage you to talk to your dentist immediately so you can receive the best care; your dentist will help coordinate the best treatment plan and help you determine the causes of your OSA. The best way to be sure you have OSA is with a sleep test. The following list of symptoms and self-test are provided to support and not replace the existing relationship between you and your dentist.

Seven Symptoms of OSA
Following is a list of seven of the common symptoms of OSA.
  1. Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
  2. Frequent Snoring
  3. Heavy/Loud Breathing during sleep
  4. Observed Apneas during sleep
  5. Restless Sleep
  6. Frequent Headaches
  7. Low Energy/Lack of Concentration

Epworth Sleepiness Scale – Test Yourself
The Epworth Sleepiness Scale is used in coordination with other tests to determine severity of Sleep Apnea. This self-test is for your information, and does not replace the testing your dentist will conduct.

Use a scale of 0-3 to indicate the chance you will fall asleep in each situation, then find out what your score means:

0-will never doze
1-slight chance of dozing
2-moderate chance of dozing
3-high chance of dozing

___Reading While Sitting
___Watching Television/Movies
___Inactivity in a public place (beach, theatre, meetings)
___Sitting as a passenger in a car (one hour without a break)
___Laying down during the day
___Sitting and talking with someone
___Sitting quietly after a lunch without alcohol
___In a car, stopped in traffic for a few moments
A score higher than 6 suggests you have a daytime sleepiness problem; talk to your dentist right away. If you scored 6 or under, your sleep is considered normal. It is important to note that if you scored below 6, you may have SDB. If you suspect you have OSA, it is important to talk to your dentist for information on the next steps to take for diagnosis.
Risks to Your Health
Your overall health is at risk when OSA is untreated. Studies show that people with SDB show higher instances of these heath problems:
  • Increased link to diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Vascular damage
  • Early Death
  • Depression
When patients are diagnosed and treated early, the risks of long-term health problems significantly drop. Contact your dentist for more information on diagnosis and treatment for your Sleep Disordered Breathing.
Now that you’re familiar with OSA and SDB, you can see how it presents itself in some obvious ways. There are several symptoms that are harder to identify, so we’ve given you a list of common and uncommon symptoms below. If you feel that you experience any of these symptoms on a regular basis, you should talk to your dentist to seek help, and to find out what you can expect from the treatments your dentist has available for you.
  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
  • Frequent Snoring
  • Heavy/Loud Breathing during sleep
  • Observed Apneas during sleep
  • Restless Sleep
  • Frequent Headache
  • Low Energy/Lack of Concentration
  • Insomnia
  • Parasomnias (sleep walking, night terrors)
Some of the common causes of OSA and SDB are listed here. Men are at a higher risk of having SDB.
Do you have any of these common causes of OSA? Your dentist will evaluate you for these potentially life threatening causes of SDB.
  • Structural abnormalities in the nose, throat, or upper airway paths
  • Extra tissue in the back of your throat (a large uvula or large tonsils)
  • Some facial characteristics can impact SDB
    • small or recessed chin
    • thickened back portion of the tongue
    • excess soft palate tissue
    • high, arched or narrow hard palate
  • Excessive weight or a large neck
  • Family history of OSA
  • Use of Alcohol and Sedatives
  • Smoking
  • Chronic congestion
How can your dentist help you? Dentists trained in Dental Sleep Medicine provide treatment plans to alleviate SDB.
Helpful solutions you can perform yourself are:
  • Weight loss
  • Exercise
Treatments provided by your dentist include oral appliances, therapeutic treatments and sometimes surgery.
UARS – Why You’re Sleepy All the Time
Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) is a condition where a person frequently experiences daytime sleepiness, but doesn’t show the usual symptoms of more severe Sleep Disorders. UARS sufferers wake frequently during the night, may snore but often go undiagnosed, which over time can lead to SDB. The main difference found in patients with OSA and UARS, is the amount of blockage of the airway during sleep, UARS patients don’t experience Apnea like OSA sufferers do, which is why UARS can sometimes be missed when diagnosing a patient. Women tend to be more prone to UARS than men.