Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that many suffer with, though they may not even be aware that they do. Dr. Kharrat D.D.S., D-ASBA from our Lubbock North and South locations has provided a few answers regarding OSA – including what it is, how to detect it, and how to treat it. While it sounds a bit scary, knowing the signs and getting the treatment you need can help relieve your symptoms and better your sleep.
What is obstructive sleep apnea?
OSA is a chronic condition that occurs when the muscles in your upper airway relax during sleep, causing them to collapse and block the airway. This can cause you to stop breathing during the night. Repeated breathing pauses can result in reduced oxygen levels and sleep disturbances, impacting your overall health and quality of life.
How are dentistry and sleep apnea related?
One of the first signs of sleep apnea in the mouth is often tooth grinding, or bruxism. A small
jaw, tongue with scalloped edges, or throat redness can also be signs of OSA. A dentist trained in sleep medicine will be able to recognize these signs and discuss any symptoms you may be
How prevalent is OSA in the United States?
It is estimated that about 54 million adults in the U.S. have OSA, and about 90% of these people don’t know they have it.
What is an oral appliance?
An oral appliance is a custom-fit device worn in the mouth while asleep. It keeps your airway
open by supporting your jaw and keeping the upper airway from collapsing while asleep.
Is treating OSA important?
Absolutely! If left untreated, chronic OSA can cause daytime fatigue and memory loss. In
addition, the research has shown that untreated OSA can cause numerous health issues
including hypertension, congestive heart failure, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
How do I know if I have OSA?
Snoring, choking sounds while sleeping, excessive daytime sleepiness, poor memory, irritability
and morning headaches are all red flags for OSA. A dentist trained in sleep medicine can help
work in conjunction with your MD to determine if you have OSA and whether oral appliance
therapy is right for you.
Are oral appliances comfortable to wear?
Many patients report oral appliances are more comfortable to wear than a CPAP mask. Also,
more than 100 oral appliances have received FDA clearance, so they are safe to wear.
If you have concerns about whether or not you are experiencing OSA, schedule an appointment with Dr. Kharrat today at our Lubbock South or North locations to discuss with your dentist or make an appointment with your doctor!