Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Sleep apnea is diagnosed with an overnight sleep test called a polysomnogram, or “sleep study”.

Treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is provided to open airway passages and improve airflow to the lungs. In mild cases, weight loss may be all that is needed. Depending on the physician’s diagnosis, nighttime appliances or coordination for jaw advancement surgery may be provided.

Sleep Apnea / Snoring Appliances

There are several advantages that oral appliances offer over other forms of therapy. The appliances are easy to care for and are comfortable to wear. Treatment is non-invasive and reversible.

Our office works in collaboration with Great Lakes Orthodontics Laboratory to provide patients with the Klearway® Appliance.

The device works by moving the lower jaw and tongue forward. Studies prove the appliance, when worn regularly, provides substantial results for the treatment of OSA and/or snoring.

Most medical insurance policies will cover the cost of this appliance when the patient is diagnosed with OSA by a certified sleep disorder center.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Sleep apnea is diagnosed with an overnight sleep test called a polysomnogram, or “sleep study”.

What are the symptoms?

It can be tough to identify sleep apnea on your own, since the most prominent symptoms only occur when you’re asleep. But you can get around this difficulty by asking a bed partner to observe your sleep habits or recording yourself during sleep.

Major symptoms of sleep apnea include…

  • Loud and chronic snoring
  • Choking, snorting, or gasping during sleep
  • Long pauses in breathing
  • Daytime sleepiness, no matter how much time you spend in bed
What are the risk factors?

You have a higher risk for obstructive sleep apnea if you are:

  • overweight
  • male
  • over the age of 65
  • black, Hispanic, or a Pacific Islander
  • related to someone who has sleep apnea
  • a smoker

Other risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea include certain physical attributes, such as having a thick neck, deviated septum, receding chin, or enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Allergies or other medical conditions that cause to nasal congestion and blockage can also contribute to sleep apnea.

Is it just snoring or is it sleep apnea?

Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. So how do you tell the difference between garden variety snoring and a more serious case of sleep apnea?

The biggest telltale sign is how you feel during the day. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea does, so you’re less likely to suffer from extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day.

What should I do if I suspect I have Sleep Apnea?

If you spot the warning signs of sleep apnea, see a doctor right away—preferably a sleep specialist. An official diagnosis of sleep apnea may require an overnight stay at a sleep clinic.

What treatments are available for Sleep Apnea?

Treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is provided to open airway passages and improve airflow to the lungs. In mild cases, weight loss may be all that is needed. Depending on the physician’s diagnosis, nighttime appliances or coordination for jaw advancement surgery may be provided.

How can dental appliances help?

There are several advantages that oral appliances offer over other forms of therapy. The appliances are easy to care for and are comfortable to wear. Treatment is non-invasive and reversible.

Our office works in collaboration with Great Lakes Orthodontics Laboratory to provide patients with the Klearway® Appliance.

The device works by moving the lower jaw and tongue forward. Studies prove the appliance, when worn regularly, provides substantial results for the treatment of OSA and/or snoring.

Does insurance cover dental appliances?

Most medical insurance policies will cover the cost of a dental appliance when the patient is diagnosed with OSA by a certified sleep disorder center.

What about surgery?

If you have exhausted other apnea treatment options, you may want to consider surgical options. Surgery can increase the size of your airway, thus reducing your episodes of sleep apnea.

The surgeon may remove tonsils, adenoids, or excess tissue at the back of the throat or inside the nose. Or, the surgeon may reconstruct the jaw to enlarge the upper airway.