OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which the flow of air decreases during breathing while you are asleep because your airway is narrowed or blocked. All the muscles in your body become more relaxed during sleep. This includes the muscles that help keep your airway open so that air can flow into and out of the lungs. Normally, the upper throat remains open during sleep to let air pass by. However, some people have a narrower throat area. When the muscles in this area relax during sleep, your breathing can stop for a period of time. This is called apnea. Snoring is caused by the air trying to squeeze through the narrowed or blocked airway. Everyone, who snores, does not have sleep apnea. Some of the factors that increase your risk are:

  • Certain shapes of the palate may cause the airway to narrow
  • Large tonsils and adenoids in children can block the airway
  • Large neck or collar size (17 inches or more)
  • Large tongue which may fall back and block the airway
  • Obesity

A person, who has obstructive sleep apnea, often is not aware of the apnea episodes during the night. They usually begin snoring soon after falling asleep and the snoring gets louder as time passes. The snoring is then interrupted by a long silent period during which there is no breathing. This is followed by a loud gasp, as the person attempts to breathe. This pattern repeats itself many times during the night. This struggling to breathe can impact your heart and raise your blood pressure.

An examination can check your mouth, neck and throat for potential problems and a history of sleepiness, sleep quality and bedtime habits can help diagnose obstructive sleep apnea. A sleep study, (poloysomnogram) is used to confirm obstructive sleep apnea.

The treatment goal is to keep the airway open so that breathing does not stop during sleep.

The following lifestyle changes may relieve systems of sleep apnea in some people:

  • Avoiding alcohol or sedatives at bedtime
  • Avoiding sleeping on your back
  • Losing weight may decrease the number of apnea episode during the night.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is now the first treatment for obstructive sleep apnea in most people. CPAP is delivered by a machine with a tight-fitting facemask. Many patients have a hard time sleeping with a CPAP mask and a dental appliance that helps to hold the lower jaw forward often is a second option for these patients. Surgery is also an option to remove excess tissue in the back of the throat. Surgery to remove the tonsils and adenoids often cures the condition in children. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea may lead to or worsen heart disease.


RECOMMENDED X-RAY PROTOCOL

Our patients often ask us about the need for x-rays and the difference between the various x-rays that we recommend. We have put together this chart to explain the different types of x-rays and their intended use. We recommend x-rays at different time intervals because we are concerned about your oral health. These films help us to monitor various conditions in your mouth and to make better recommendations. We are happy to answer any questions about x-rays or about any phase of your treatment.

 XRAYCONDITIONFREQUENCY
FMX

Numerous filings, crowns, bridges, root canal, periodontal disease (>5mm pockets), implant, decay, etc.

EVERY 5 YRS
 7BWsNo pockets, minimal fillings, crowns, implants

EVERY 5 YRS

4BWs OR 2 BWs

Crowns, fillings, decay, bone loss on posterior teeth

EVERY 2 – 3 YRS
POSTERIOR PA’s

Advance posterior periodontal disease (>5mm pockets), numerous posterior restorations & root canals

EVERY 2 YRS / PRN
PERIAPICALS

Root canals, implants / patients “chief complaint”

EVERY 1 – 2 YRS / PRN

 PANORAMIC

Wisdom teeth, pathologies, primary & secondary dentition

EVERY 5 YRS