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Sleep Apnea

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing stops periodically during sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. (“Apnea ” is the Greek word for “without breath. ”) If you suffer from sleep apnea, each time your breathing stops, the resulting lack of oxygen alerts your brain, which temporarily wakes you up to restart proper breathing. Because the time spent awake is so brief, most people with sleep apnea don't remember it — and many think they are getting a good night's sleep. However, the constant wake-sleep-wake-sleep cycle precludes the deep sleep that refreshes the body, and sufferers are frequently drowsy during the day.

Are there different types of sleep apnea?

There are three categories of sleep apnea. The most common is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and occurs due to a physical blockage, usually the collapsing of the soft tissue in the back of the throat. Less common is central sleep apnea (CSA), in which breathing stops because the muscles involved don't receive the proper signal from the brain. And some people suffer from “mixed ” or “complex ” sleep apnea, which is a combination of obstructive and central.

Is sleep apnea dangerous?

Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical problem and if left untreated can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke. The ongoing state of fatigue caused by sleep apnea can lead to problems at work or school, as well as danger when operating cars or other heavy machinery. Sleep apnea can also cause complications with medication or surgery: sedation by anesthesia can be risky, as can lying flat in bed after an operation. If you know or suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, alert any doctors who prescribe medication or advise surgery.

How is sleep apnea treated?

We feel a sleep specialist is the best person to determine your treatment needs. As orthodontists, we work under the recommendations and guidance of your sleep physician in the fabrication and delivery of oral appliances. 


A CPAP is generally the standard of care for obstructive sleep apnea. In certain cases, your sleep physician may decide that an oral appliance will be the best alternative.

How do I make an appointment?

Just call our office closest to you and tell them you have sleep apnea. We will schedule a consultation to review the appliance, take x-rays and impressions.

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