Symptoms and Effects

Over 20 MILLION Americans suffer from Sleep Apnea and don't even know it! An apnea is when breathing stops for 10 seconds of more.  Such occurrences may last up to 90 seconds in length and may occur many times and hour.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a potentially life threatening condition which prevents air from reaching the lungs, even though your body continues to try and breathe.  Narrowing of the throat or a backwards movement of the tongue as one falls asleep is usually the cause of obstructive sleep apnea.  As we age, the muscles in the neck lose their tone and the accumulation of fat may also lead to airway obstruction. Each time the airway is obstructed, the oxygen level is lowered, blood pressure is raised, and blood sugar is raised.

Snoring is a partial mechanical blockage of the airway.  It can be caused by obstructed nasal breathing, retruded tongue position, and loss of muscle tone in the airway.  Snoring can be present with or without sleep apnea.

Symptoms of Sleep Disordered Breathing:

  • Loud Snoring
  • Daytime tiredness
  • Gasping,choking,struggling for breath during sleep
  • Stop breathing during sleep
  • Toss and turn frequently
  • Awakening repeatedly due to breathing difficulty
  • Kick or jerk legs repeatedly
  • Morning headaches
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease(GERD)
  • Poor memory or clouded intellect
  • Irritability, personality changes
  • Decreased sex drive, impotence
  • Griding teeth at night
  • Cardiavascular disease
  • Heartburn
  • Depression
  • Excessive perspiration at night
  • Dry mouth upon waking
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Frequent trips to the bathrrom during the night

Risk Factors for Sleep Disordered Breathing:

  • Neck size greater than 17" for men and 16" for woman
  • Overweight
  • Increasing age
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Pulmonary disease
  • Abnormal tooth alignment or crowded mouth
  • Tongue scalloping (imprints of teeth on tongue
  • Male gender
  • Post-menopausal
  • African-American
  • Family history
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages at night
  • Smoking

*If you have any of these symptoms, please contact our office for an evaluation.

Diagnosis of Sleep Disorders:

Traditionally, sleep disorders were diagnosed and treated only by physicians such as primary care doctors, ENT's, pulmonologists, and neurologists. Currently, the dental profession plays an important role in early detection and treatment of sleep disordered breathing. Modern technology has made it practical for dental offices, such as the Center for TMJ & Sleep Disorders, LLC, trained in dental sleep medicine and physicians trained in traditional sleep medicine, to work together and treat patients collectively. However, an accurate diagnosis may only be achieved through the efforts of properly trained practitioners. Two distinct testing protocols are used for diagnosis of sleep disorders:

Overnight Polysomnography (PSG)

This test measures a variety of body functions during sleep. It is conducted overnight in a clinic or a hospital and sensors are attached to the body, measuring brain, heart and muscle activity, eye movements, oxygen saturation, airflow through the nose and mouth along with several other monitors. There is audio and video taping of the entire test. Most medical insurance companies reimburse for a PSG study, however, the typical deductible or co-pay may range from $400. - $850. It is not unusual to have a wait time of several weeks to obtain an overnight PSG test.

Ambulatory or “At Home” Study

This test records many of the same measurements as the PSG but it is conducted in the privacy of your own home. Several devices are available. At the Center for TMJ & Sleep Disorders, LLC, we use several devices, including the Watch Pat™ ambulatory study and the MediByte™ ambulatory study. Both devices have exhaustive clinical research validating their accuracy. The take home studies are compact and easy to wear devices. You simply press the "on" button and then go to sleep. The next morning the device is returned to our office and results are received in a matter of minutes after downloading the information to the computer. The average cost of an ambulatory study is far less than an overnight lab study AND the device is more comfortable and less invasive. In our office, you may walk out of the initial consultation with the device and test yourself that same evening.

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