Montgomery Dental Medicine Sleep Apnea

Cincinnati, OH Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder in which a person stops breathing during the night, perhaps hundreds of times, usually for periods of 10 seconds or longer and sometimes for as long as a minute. These gaps in breathing are called apneas. (Apnea literally meaning absence of breath.) It is usually accompanied by snoring. People who have sleep apnea may not even be aware of the condition, but it inevitably causes daytime sleepiness.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the most common form of apnea, occurs when tissues in the lower throat (or airway) collapse at intervals during sleep, thereby blocking the passage of air. In general, OSA occurs as follows:

  • On its way to the lungs, air passes through the nose, mouth, and throat (known as the upper airway).
  • Under normal conditions, the back of the throat is soft and pliant and tends to collapse inward as a person breathes.
  • Certain muscles, called dilator muscles, work against this to keep the airway open. Interference or abnormalities in this process cause air turbulence.
  • If the tissue at the back of the throat collapse and become momentarily blocked, apnea occurs. Breath is temporarily stopped. In most cases the person in unaware of it, although sometimes they awaken and gasp for breath.
  • In some cases, the interference is incomplete {called obstructive hypopnea} and causes continuous but slow and shallow breathing. In response the throat vibrates and makes the sound of snoring. Snoring can occur whether a person breathes through the mouth or nose.
  • Apnea decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood, and eventually this lack of oxygen triggers the lungs to suck in air.
  • At this point, the patient may make a gasping or snorting sound but does not usually fully wake up.

Symptoms in Adults

People with sleep apnea usually do not remember waking up during the night. Indicators of the problem may be such vague symptoms as the following:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning Headaches
  • Irritability and even impaired mental or emotional functioning.
  • Snoring. Bed partners may report very loud and interrupted snoring.
  • Heartburn, {Acid back up that causes heartburn}

Self Sleep Assessment

Symptoms in Children

Sleep apnea occurs in about 2% of children. They may exhibit symptoms that differ from adults, including the following:

  • Longer total sleep time than normal in some children, especially obese children or those with severe apnea.
  • Snoring.
  • More effort in breathing at night the chest may have an inward motion during sleep.
  • Behavioral difficulties without any obvious cause, such as hyperactivity and inattention. {Some patients may even be misdiagnosed with attention - deficit hyperactivity disorder.}
  • Irritability
  • Bed-wetting
  • Morning Headaches
  • Failure to grow and gain weight.

Dr. Bosma would like you to complete the following pediatric sleep questionnaire for your child to help him evaluate their current sleep and airway situation, which plays a major role in dental development.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Structural Abnormalities

Any structural abnormality in the face, skull, or airways that cause some obstruction or collapse in the upper airways and reduce air pressures can produce sleep apnea syndrome. Among the most likely structural cause of many cases of sleep apnea are abnormalities in tissue that lie between the back of the mouth and the esophagus {food pipe}. Enlarged soft palates {base of the tongue or the surrounding throat walls especially enlarged tonsils} have been particularly associated with many cases of sleep apnea.

Other causes researchers have identified associated with sleep apnea are as follows:

  • Nerve, Metabolic, and Mechanical Abnormalities
  • Obesity
  • Abnormal Sleep Behaviors
  • Facial or skull abnormalities, overbite, narrow upper jaw, receding chin and high elevated palates.
  • Overgrown tonsils or adenoids
  • Having a large neck circumference
  • Smoking and Alcohol use
  • Large tongue

Medical Conditions Often Related to Sleep Apnea

  • Diabetes
  • GERD {Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease}
  • Hypothyroidism
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Heart Attack
  • Seizures, epilepsy and other Nerve disorders.
  • Headaches, Migraines
  • Kidney Failure
  • Stroke
  • Just to name a few

Effect on Bed Partners

Because sleep apnea so often includes noisy snoring, the condition can also adversely affect the sleep quality of a patient's bed partner. Spouses or partners may also suffer from sleeplessness and fatigue. In some cases, the snoring can even disrupt relationships. Diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea in the patient can, of course, help eliminate these problems.

How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

General Guidelines for Seeking a Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea

Chronic daytime sleepiness and habitual snoring are primary signs of sleep apnea. The risks are even higher in people who are overweight, hypertensive, or both. All individuals who think they or a family member may have a sleeping disorder should discuss it with a medical professional immediately. It could just save your life.

Accepting new patients. For the best oral health service, call Montgomery Dental Medicine at 513-891-5860 to schedule an appointment. Because it’s not just about your teeth!

Sleep Apnea - Cincinnati, OH
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