Sleep Apnea

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Key word being “obstructive” – the thing “obstructing” the airway being the jaw, tongue or other soft tissue which falls back or “sags” into the airway as the brain approaches the deepest stages of sleep and the muscles of the airway fully relax.  When the airway collapses like this, breathing becomes compromised or is stopped. The brain gets out of the deepest stage of sleep to regain control of the jaw muscles (usually by clenching or grinding) to reopen the airway and keep you alive and breathing.  When your breathing is stopped, the body goes into fight-or-flight mode with an adrenaline response to “wake up” the brain to reopen the airway.  That response evolved to keep humans alive in the short term, but on a nightly basis puts extraordinary wear and tear on the body.  The stress of going into fight-or-flight mode several times each night can be an emotional toll as well and cause anxiety or stress during the day.

Symptoms of OSA:


  • Witnessed breathing pauses during sleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Morning headaches
  • Sore throat upon awakening
  • Restless sleep
  • Gasping or choking at night
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain at night
  • Frequent arousals during sleep
  • Nausea
  • Becoming irritable or temperamental
  • Severe anxiety or depression
  • Poor job performance
  • Brain fog
  • Impotence
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Teeth clenching


  • Hyperactivity
  • Poor attention span
  • Poor performance in school
  • Developmental delay
  • Noisy breathers
  • Obesity
  • Frequent upper airway infections
  • Earaches
  • Bed wetting
  • Nocturnal mouth breathing
  • Snoring
  • Restless sleep
  • Nightmares
  • Headaches
  • Chronic nose running

If you or your child have snoring or suspect sleep disordered breathing, a sleep study should be performed.  There are 2 ways to perform a sleep study: Polysomnograph (PSG) is performed in a sleep laboratory while “attended” by medical professionals, Home Sleep Study (HST) is performed using a device administered to the patient to use at home.

Treatment Options For OSA

  There are many options to treat OSA and the choice will be based on severity, causes of the obstruction and personal preference.  Options include Dental Device Therapy, CPAP, Surgery, Positional Therapy and Weight Loss.