Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common and potentially life-threatening disorder in which breathing pauses while you sleep. OSA results in decreased oxygen levels in the blood and can disrupt sleep cycles by briefly waking sleepers through the night. OSA has many different causes.
In adults, the most common cause of OSA is excess weight and obesity which affects the soft tissue of the mouth and throat. During sleep, when throat and tongue muscles relax, the soft tissue can block the airway however many other factors are also associated with this condition in adults. In addition to obesity, other contributing factors may include hypothyroidism, smoking, excessive alcohol use and the use of sedatives.
In children, enlarged tonsils or adenoids and other dental conditions such as a large overbite can contribute to OSA.
Untreated OSA can lead to serious and, many times, life-threatening complications such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, work-related or driving accidents and premature death.
A physician must determine if you have obstructive sleep apnea. Our office provides patients with at home sleep tests that will then be interpreted by a sleep physician to make a diagnosis.
Treatment for OSA can depend on the diagnosis and the severity of the sleep apnea. Oral appliances can be an effective option for mild-to-moderate OSA. Oral appliances are worn during sleep and support the jaw in a forward position which allows the upper airway to stay open.