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Dental Sleep Medicine

Dayton Dental Sleep Medicine Official Website

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) refers to a blockage of the upper airway during sleep that causes you to stop breathing periodically.  Most people stop breathing momentarily a few times during sleep.  This is normal.  In sleep apnea, breathing stops for at least ten seconds more often than it should.

Obstruction of the upper airway usually occurs when the base of the tongue presses against the soft palate as you sleep.  Because air cannot enter the lungs, the blood oxygen level falls below normal.  At this point your brain will tell you to wake up, which you will then do, with a loud snore.  As soon as you wake up, the muscle tone in the upper airway and the tongue returns to normal.  You begin breathing as you usually do.  This cycle repeats when you go back to sleep.

In mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea, the cycle of apnea and normal breathing occurs only a few times during the night.  In severe cases the cycle may repeat several hundred times.

As a result of the constant nighttime breathing stoppages, patients often begin to suffer from a number of symptoms directly related to sleep apnea.

These include:

bruxism (grinding your teeth)
excessive daytime tiredness
acid reflux
high blood pressure
weight gain
heart attack

Risk factors:

obesity (weight gain)
large neck circumference
anatomic abnormalities/facial deformities
alcohol/sedative use
enlarged tonsils & adenoids