Kasia D. Lopez, DDS / PureDental

Chicago Sleep Apnea

What is sleep apnea?

In normal breathing patterns, your air passage is clear and air can flow in and out unobstructed. However, when you're asleep, those tissues relax and can constrict that airway. As you breathe in and out during your sleep, the soft tissues in that constricted airway will vibrate, resulting in snoring. See how this is diagrammed at the right.

In some cases, the airway may even close. When this happens, we have progressed from simple snoring to obstructive sleep apnea.

When your breathing is blocked, your body detects the drop in oxygen levels and responds by giving you a quick moment of wakefulness, and then you draw a breath. Though you may be unaware, this can happen hundreds of times in a night. The only thing you may notice is that you don't feel rested when you wake up.

Solving the obstruction can be as simple as moving the lower jaw forward. Notice in the diagram at the right, the lower jaw is moved forward slightly. This opens the passageway, and normal breathing can take place.

 

  picture of a mild obstruction leading to Chicago snoring Picture of obstructive Chicago sleep apnea A picture of a normal airway without sleep apnea

Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea

Here is a list of symptoms:

  • Snoring that disturbs you or others
  • Snoring that is interrupted by pauses or choking
  • Sleepiness and fatigue during waking hours, even with a full night's sleep
  • Sudden night awakenings, occasionally with the feeling of gasping for air
  • High blook pressure
  • Headaches when you wake up in the morning
  • Waking up during the night with headaches
But the only way to know for certain that you are suffering from sleep apnea and not just ordinary snoring is to get a sleep study. We can help arrange for one for you.

Solutions to Sleep Apnea

Historically, the first line of defense has been continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP device. Many people find them difficult and intrusive into their lives, which may account for the fact that only about 30% of those who are given CPAPs actually use them.

A picture of a sleep apnea sleeping appliance  

A simpler way is to use a mandibular advancement appliance, such as the Somnodent, pictured at the left. We also use Herbst and Dorsal appliances.

The Somnodent is particularly comfortable, unobtrusive, and trouble-free. It simply pushes your lower jaw forward a little as you close your mouth. It can be adjusted to achieve a balance between maximum effectiveness and maximum comfort, and is quite popular with patients.

Be aware, though, that while these appliances have an excellent success rate, not every case can be treated with an appliance.

If you feel that you may be suffering from sleep apnea, or simply you or a partner has an annoying snoring problem, give us a call, or visit our request an appointment page. We'd be happy to see you.

Chicago Sleep Apnea