Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea (OSA - Obstructive Sleep Apnea)


What is OSA?

OSA, or Sleep Apnea, is a type of sleep disorder where a person has pauses in breathing during sleep.  Each pause in breathing is called an "apnea" and can last from at least 10 seconds to several minutes.  The pause in breathing is caused by physical block in airflow to the lungs. These apneas can occur 5 to 30 or more times per hour.



What are the signs of OSA?

People suffering from OSA often experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Snoring
  • Daytime Sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Dry Mouth or Sore throat upon waking up in the morning
  • Trouble concentrating, depression, irritability
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sudden awakenings and gasping for air
  • Difficulty getting up in the morning


Why is Sleep Apnea (OSA) Important?

If left untreated, Sleep Apnea can result in a number of health problems including:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Depression


Who gets Sleep Apnea?

More than 50% of Sleep Apnea patients are Overweight
Middle aged men and women (especially after menopause)
People with thick or large necks (Shirt size over 16 inches in Women, Over 17 inches for Men)
People with anatomically small airways in the nose, throat, or mouth


How is OSA diagnosed?

Sleep apnea is usually diagnosed by a Polysomnogram (PSG), or Sleep Study. Doctors who are specially trained in sleep disorders perform a physical exam, medical and sleep habit history.  Sleep testing is performed in a sleep lab and is supervised by a technologist.  The test will measure among other things, air flow, blood oxygen levels, breathing patterns, eye movements, heart rate and muscle activity.

After the test is completed, a report will be completed to assess the presence and severity of sleep apnea.


Sleep Apnea can also be diagnosed with a Home Sleep Study (HST).  At Dentistry of Mendham, we work with HomeSleep, LLC.®

With this type of testing, a small device is worn on the wrist or chest and fingertip while sleeping in your own bed at home.  In the morning after testing, the unit is sent back to the testing company, the results are analyzed by sleep physicians, and a report is made about the presence and severity of sleep apnea.

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How is Sleep Apnea (OSA) Treated?

Conservative Treatment for minor cases includes:

  • Losing Weight
  • Avoiding alcohol near bedtime
  • Avoiding sleeping on the back
  • Use of nasal sprays in people with sinus or nasal congestion
  • Avoiding sleep deprivation

Mechanical Therapy (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or CPAP)

  • This is the preferred initial treatment for most people with OSA
  • Patients wear a mask over their nose and/or mouth while a mechanical unit at the bedside forces humidified air to prevent the tissues in the airway from collapsing during sleep.  
  • The pressure is constant and continuous.


  • Some patients benefit from various surgical procedures that can remove excessive or malformed tissues that could be obstructing airflow during sleep
  • Some of these procedures are Somnoplasty, UPPP, and mandibular advancement surgery
  • For more information, please speak to your physician.


How Can My Dentist Help?

Mandibular Advancement Therapy 

For Patients with mild to moderate Sleep Apnea who cannot tolerate a CPAP machine or are not candidates for surgery, Dentists can construct appliances for "Mandibular Advancement Therapy".

These devices fit onto the upper and lower teeth and move the lower jaw forward.  Since the tongue and other tissues of the throat are attached to the lower jaw, moving it forward can prevent the tissues from blocking the airway during sleep.
At Dentistry of Mendham, we recommend appliances from SomnoMed®.  We have found through experience that SomnoDent devices are more comfortable than other types of devices because they are custom made to fit the mouth, they do not impinge on the tongue, and the patient can open and close their mouths without the jaws being locked or fixed together.


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If you think you or a loved one may have the signs and symptoms of Sleep Apnea, contact our office for a complimentary consultation

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