Sleep Apnea: The Unknown Thief of Sleep

Sleep Apnea:
The Unknown Thief of Sleep

Forget sleeping in. If you aren’t sleeping at all and commonly wake up gasping for air you could have sleep apnea. Your dentist may be able to help.


What is sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common and serious disease where you stop breathing while sleeping due to your airway getting blocked. Consequentially, less oxygen reaches your lungs and your brain resulting in your body being oxygen deprived.  When this happens you may snore, choke or gasp for breath, resulting in you waking up from sleep.


How common is sleep apnea?

In America alone, the Journal of Epidemiology estimates that 26% of adults between the age of 30 and 70 suffer from sleep apnea – that’s roughly 1 out of every 4 grown adults. Shockingly, however, is it estimated that up to 80% of Sleep Apnea cases go undiagnosed.

If you have untreated sleep apnea you are four times more likely to have a stroke and three times more likely to suffer from heart disease.


What are the consequences of untreated sleep apnea?

The short term consequences of sleep apnea can often appear normal, or harmless: waking up in the morning feeling unrefreshed, excessive daytime sleepiness, and difficulty concentrating.

However, the long term consequences of the oxygen deprivation are significant negative health consequences which include: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression.

Dental Sleep Medicine Patients

If I think I have Sleep Apnea, how do I get diagnosed?

As an easy starting point, complete the following screening, called the STOP BANG questionnaire, to determine if you could be at risk for Sleep Apnea.

Part 1
1. Do you snore?
2. Do you feel fatigued during the day? Do you wake up feeling like you haven’t slept?
3. Have you been told you stop breathing at night? Do you gasp for air or choke while sleeping?
4. Do you have high blood pressure or are on medication to control high blood pressure?

Part 2
1. Is your BMI greater than 28?
2. Are you 50 years or older?
3. If you are a male is your neck circumference greater than 17 inches, if you are a female, is it greater than 16 inces?
4. Are you a male?

If you answered yes to two or more questions in the part 1 portion you are at risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The more questions you answered yes to in the part 2 questions the greater your risk of having moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

As a next step, we recommend that you see your general physician or a pulmonologist for a complete diagnosis and recommended treatment.

How We Can Help

Dental Sleep Medicine  is an area of dentistry we provide that focuses on the use of oral appliance therapy to treat sleep-disordered breathing, including snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Patients are fitted with a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) which is worn at night to open the airway by moving the mandible (the lower jaw) forward. For many patients this is the most viable solution to Sleep Apnea and offers several advantages over a forced oxygen or CPAP device.


Copyright © 2019 Michael R DeFee DMD PhD PLLC. All Rights Reserved. 
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