Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) & other sleep-related breathing disorders are a widespread problem affecting an estimated 26-37% of American adults1,2.

Many of these conditions can be life threatening if not treated, yet often go undiagnosed. Most people don’t even know they suffer from these conditions, or the very real dangers they live with. Good sleep is vital to health, yet millions are deprived of sleep, their sleep is interrupted by their body waking up to breathe.

Sleep Apnea is a serious medical condition marked by interruptions in breathing throughout the sleep cycle. The most common form is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), where collapsed tissues in the throat obstruct the airway. This causes the body to partially awakens to resume breathing throughout the night. Severe cases can result in hundreds of these awakenings each night. These interruptions to the sleep cycle prevent truly restful sleep, causing symptoms like snoring, waking up tired, headaches in the morning and daytime sleepiness or fatigue that affects work productivity and one’s quality of life.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  • Pauses in breathing last at least 10 seconds.
  • Severe cases may last up to 30 seconds.
  • Pauses in breathing recur throughout the sleep cycle.
  • Results in frequent awakenings and fragmented sleep.
  • Loud snoring and snorting-gasping sounds may be present.

As many as 55 million American adults could be living with undiagnosed OSA and most not even know it1. An estimated 1 in 3-5 adults suffer from mild to moderate OSA and 1 in 15 from moderate to severe OSA. As many as 80% of these cases are undiagnosed and unaware of their condition3. Awareness of OSA and access to treatment is a widespread public health problem, one with potentially life threatening consequences for millions of Americans. For these reasons it is crucial that anyone experiencing symptoms be screened and tested for OSA. Intervening early can prevent progression of the disease and improve overall health, reducing other problems. Both the American Dental Association and the North Carolina Dental Society now recommend that all dentists screen their patients for OSA4. To this end, High Country Dentistry is pleased to offer you complimentary screening for OSA. Click here to schedule your appointment.

OSA can leave you feeling tired all day, cause fatigued driving and lower your productivity, but these are not the only dangers. Left untreated, OSA puts added stress on the heart and immune system. Chronic lack of sleep can exacerbate existing conditions, increasing the likelihood of adverse events. Research findings report that Sleep apnea is commonly associated with other serious medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

OSA is associated with these, often serious medical conditions

  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Acid Reflux
  • Obesity
  • Heart-failure
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • ADHD

Common Symptoms of OSA include

  • Snoring
  • Daytime Sleepiness or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Restless sleep
  • Gasping for Air during sleep
  • Depression
  • Feeling irritable
  • Night sweats
  • Dry mouth or sore throat in the morning
  • Headaches in the morning

OSA is a widespread health problem, with potentially life-threatening consequences if left untreated. For these reasons it is crucial that anyone experiencing symptoms be screened and tested for OSA. Screening is painless and provided free of charge by High Country Dentistry. Click here to schedule your appointment. Intervening early can prevent progression of the disease and improve overall health, reducing other problems.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is often used to treat OSA. As an alternative, we treat sleep apnea with an FDA approved oral appliance customized to fit each patient. Many patients prefer oral appliances to CPAP and tend to be more adherent to therapy. As for CPAP, most medical insurance provides benefits for oral appliance therapy. High Country Dentistry will file the paperwork to your medical insurance.

  1. Benjafield et al. Estimation of the global prevalence and burden of obstructive sleep apnoea: a literature-based analysis. Lancet Respir Med. 7:687-698, 2019;
  2. Peppard et al. Increased prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing in adults. Am J Epidemiol. 177:1006-1014, 2013.
  3. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-apnea
  4. https://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Member%20Center/FIles/The-Role-of-Dentistry-in-Sleep-Related-Breathing-Disorders.pdf?la=en