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Breathing Wellness/Sleep Apnea

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA is a common sleep disorder in which people stop breathing periodically during sleep due to a restriction in their airway. Apnea literally translates as “cessation of breathing.”

During an obstructive sleep apnea event, air is blocked from making its way to the lungs by obstructions in the upper airway. These obstructions are caused when either fatty tissues in the throat collapse back into the airway, enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids block the airway, or the tongue falls back into the airway.

This often leads to loud snorts and even choking sounds as the patient struggles to breathe (most often without even knowing it) followed by loud gasps. Apnea events often last for up to 10 seconds at a time before breathing resumes for a period.

When blood oxygen levels in the body drop, the brain partially awakens from sleep to send signals to the respiratory system to increase breathing effort.

Some patients experience hundreds of apnea events in a night of sleep.

Signs of Sleep Apnea

There is a good chance that if you snore, you experience at least some level of sleep disturbance. If you wake up in the morning after 7-8 hours of sleep and are still consistently tired you may have sleep apnea. The following is a short list of signs of sleep apnea:

  • Snoring
  • Insomnia and difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up gasping for breath, or short of breath
  • Reports of snorting or sudden choking sounds
  • Persistent headaches throughout the day
  • Excessive sleepiness or grogginess
  • Needing to take naps during the day

Treatment of Sleep Apnea

A consultation with one of our Breathing Wellness dentists is a good place to start. They can determine the nature of your concerns and facilitate a sleep study to get you a diagnosis. These sleep studies are painless and are able to be completed in the comfort of your home.

Treating sleep apnea involves several health professionals, including your general physician. Breathing Wellness dentists specialize in coordinating this process and getting you the appropriate treatment in a timely manner. If it is determined that an oral appliance is a good solution for your sleep apnea or you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea, then the treatment typically starts with an appointment where the dentist takes impressions of your teeth, performs a detailed oral exam and possibly a special 3D x-ray.

After this appointment a consultation might be booked to review your case and give you the oral appliance options. Once you decide on the appliance, the device is issued within 2-4 weeks.

Breathing Wellness/Sleep Apnea Sherwood Park