Watch this brief video to learn more about sleep apnea and the importance of treatment. A dentist can help treat obstructive sleep apnea patients with an oral appliance.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder defined by pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep. There can be many underlying causes of sleep apnea. Diagnosis should only be made by a physician trained in sleep medicine and based on results of a sleep study. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), oral appliance therapy (dental sleep therapy), and surgery are common forms of treatment.

Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed so it is important that you notify your physician of symptoms that are often associated with sleep apnea. Some of these include snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, weight gain, or if someone observed you stop breathing for moments at a time during sleep.

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. In this condition, the airway collapses or becomes partially blocked during sleep by the surrounding tissue which is the cause of shallow breathing or pauses in breathing. Airflow is interrupted often causing a vibration otherwise known as snoring. Not all people who snore have sleep apnea.

Find out if you are at risk for sleep apnea

Answer the following screening questions to see if you may be risk for sleep apnea


Snore - Do you snore?
Tired - Do you feel tired, fatigued or sleepy during daytime?
Observed - Has anyone observed you stop breathing during your sleep?
Pressure - Do you have or are you being treated for high blood pressure?


BMI - Do you have a BMI greater than 35?
Age - Are you older than 50 years old?
Neck - Is your neck circumference (collar size) greater than 16 inches?
Gender - Are you male?
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Conditions Linked to Sleep Apnea

It can be important to take a questionnaires such as the S.T.O.P. / B.A.N.G. to see if you may be at risk for sleep apnea. Screening and early detection can prevent other problems linked to sleep apnea such as:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation)                             
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Weight Gain
  • Daytime Sleepiness & Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Car Accidents

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine