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Sleep Apnea/Snoring

We’re concerned about the overall health of our patients, including their sleep health. Many people suffer needlessly from dangerous sleep disruptive conditions that keep them from getting enough oxygen at night.  A sleep disorder raises the risk of heart attack 23 times over average, and 92% of stroke victims live unknowingly with this condition before an attack. Our training allows us to offer you education and treatment surrounding sleep health in the simplest and most cost-effective way possible.  

Estimates suggest that more than twelve million Americans compromise their health due to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Most cases remain undiagnosed, contributing to diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and traffic accidents related to drowsy driving. Dentistry serves a vital role in treating this silent epidemic. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends oral appliances as a primary therapy for the treatment of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea and for patients with severe sleep apnea who can’t tolerate CPAP treatment.


About one-third of our life is spent sleeping, restoring our minds and bodies.  Disruptions to sleep may lead to a range of problems and even seriously compromise our health.  In fact, poor sleep quality can shorten our lifespans by 10-15 years while affecting the quality of our years.  Snoring may seem benign, but it may be a warning that you’re missing the vital benefits of sound sleep.  And it may be disrupting the sleep of others, leading to stress in relationships.

Snoring produces sound ranging from a few decibels up to 90 decibels in severe cases.  Sleep disruption typically occurs around 30 decibels although any level of noise may arouse light sleepers.  When you breathe, vital oxygen passes through your airway to reach your lungs. After falling asleep, the muscles controlling the neck, tongue, and jaw relax.  This relaxation may cause the soft tissues around the airway to collapse and vibrate as you breathe.  The snoring sound reverberates as air attempts to rush through a constricted space sometimes no wider than a straw.

Approximately half of snorers experience a narrowing of the airway that creates an obstruction. This blockage causes breathing to stop for up to a minute or more.  Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) leads to critical drops in the oxygen levels in the blood, and may occur dozens of times each night.  The release of stress hormones as your body undergoes distress contributes to a host of medical disorders.

Numerous factors can influence snoring including alcohol, sleep position, weight, and jaw position during sleep.  Dr. Cohen can help you understand snoring and what it may mean in your particular situation.  And treatment may be simpler than you think as you experience the remarkable benefits of healthy sleep.


What is OSA?

OSA is a breathing disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep due to a blockage in the airway.  Obstructions occur when throat muscles, tongue, tonsils, or the soft palate falls back into the throat. The obstruction results in a severe drop in blood oxygen levels throughout the night.

OSA is typically diagnosed using a polysomnogram or a sleep study. During a sleep study, a sleep physician monitors brain activity and body system functioning while a patient rests overnight at a sleep lab. The specialist evaluates the data collected during the study to diagnose sleep disorders and recommends treatment. If indicated by the sleep doctor, a dentist trained in sleep medicine works with him/her to treat obstructive sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy.  In some cases, a home sleep study may also be possible instead of reporting to a sleep lab.

What are the signs of obstructive sleep apnea?

The following symptoms can indicate the presence of sleep apnea. If you notice one or more of these, give us a call, and we can discuss how we can treat your sleeping disorders.

  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Loud snoring at night
  • Waking up at night short of breath
  • Snorting or choking sounds during the night (indicating a restart of breathing)
  • Headaches upon waking in the morning
  • Falling asleep unintentionally during the day
  • Extreme drowsiness throughout the day

How Is OSA Treated?

Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea can be treated with surgery, CPAP or BiPAP machines, or oral appliance therapy. Oral appliances provide the least invasive option and often a good choice for treatment of mild to moderate OSA.  A carefully calibrated appliance can comfortably help hold the jaw in a precise position throughout the night, allowing critical oxygen flow.

All treatment recommendations should be made in consultation with your sleep physician.  Once a treatment path that you can use consistently is chosen, we may be able to provide critical support for your efforts.  If appliance therapy is selected, it’s essential the right method and positioning are designed to maintain your airway precisely.