What is sleep apnea?


OSA Structural CausesSleep apnea is a condition where you momentarily stop breathing while you’re asleep. These episodes last for several seconds many times each hour, every night that you’re asleep. This most commonly occurs when patients sleep on their back. The lower jaw falls backwards and the throat muscles relax and become floppy, closing your airway. For most people, their breathing muscles are strong enough to overcome the blockage and can breathe continually all night long. For some patients, though, normal breathing isn’t enough to get air down into their lungs, so they stop breathing. After several seconds, the brain thinks you are suffocating and sends messages to your body to cough and open your airway. When you stop breathing, the oxygen levels in your blood drop, starving your body’s cells. This lowered oxygen level is called hypopnea.  When there are more hypopnic events happening every night, the body’s cells become damaged beyond repair, leading to long term chronic problems.

What is the treatment for sleep apnea?

OSA SymptomsThe most common treatment for sleep apnea is called CPAP- Continuous Positive Air Pressure. You wear a mask connected to a machine that blows air down your nostrils all night, so your throat doesn’t have a chance to close at all. Your airway is splinted open all night by a constant stream of high pressure air. It’s like being connected to a vacuum cleaner in reverse all night.

CPAP machines are very successful, if they are worn. Most patients don’t like the idea of wearing a mask to bed every night. It’s also another piece of equipment they have to have with them wherever they plan on sleeping. If they are going out of town, patients need to remember to bring their CPAP machine, and be close to an electrical outlet to plug it in.

Another solution to treat  snoring and sleep apnea is an oral appliance. Oral appliances position your lower jaw forward so it doesn’t fall back and block your airway when you’re sleeping. Your tongue is connected to your lower jaw, so it too can’t flop back and block your throat while you sleep. Many patients have found oral appliances are a much better treatment for them, compared to a traditional CPAP machine.

[easy-contactform id=38 modal=”CLICK HERE TO REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT RIGHT NOW!”]

How do I know if I have sleep apnea?

Man sleeping with CPAP machine

Man sleeping with CPAP machine

The best way to determine if you have any sleeping disorders, like sleep apnea, is with a lab sleep test. But, some common symptoms you might be aware of that sleep apnea patients have are loud snoring (the MOST COMMON symptom of sleep apnea is snoring), daytime tiredness, irritability, weight gain, falling asleep during the day, depression, memory problems, frequent night urination, and night sweats.

Since sleep apnea occurs when you’re, well, asleep, it may be difficult for you to know if this dangerous condition is something you need to worry about. Common symptoms of sleep apnea and sleep related disorders are loud snoring, daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, fatigue, weight gain, depression, and irritability. The only way to truly determine if you have sleep apnea is with a lab sleep test.

But, even though the thought of having to sleep at a laboratory might keep you awake for hours, there are simpler, at-home ways to find out if you might have a sleeping problem. Instead of having a full lab sleep test performed, your physician may order a home sleep test for you. You connect all the pads and breathing tubes at home, and an electronic recorder measures your breathing, heart rate, and oxygen flow throughout the night. Your physician then reads the report generated from the home sleep test device to determine if treatment may be indicated.

You can also take a preliminary questionnaire to find out if you should even be evaluated for sleep apnea in the first place.  You can take a five minute (actually, it’s more like two minutes, but if I told you it was a two minute survey, you might think I was fibbing a bit) survey to find out first if you should be more thoroughly evaluated for any sleep disorders. The most common and accepted survey is called the Epworth Sleepiness Survey.


The Epworth Survey is a short list of questions asking you how likely it is for you to fall asleep or doze off during certain times throughout your day. It’s a great way to find out easily if you should talk to your physician about sleeping issues and possibly order a lab or at-home sleep test.

Fill out the form below and our office will contact you as soon as we are open to schedule a complimentary, no-charge sleep appliance consultation, and find out if an oral appliance is right for you to alleviate your snoring or sleeping problems.

[easy-contactform id=38]

Contact Us

Request an Appointment


Great Lakes Dentistry
Great Lakes Dentistry
4.8 out of 5 stars
97 reviews
4313 S Rochester Rd
Royal Oak, MI 48073, USA
(248) 435-8880
Great Lakes Dentistry
Tyler Fraser
5 out of 5 stars
These guys are...
Great Lakes Dentistry
Marcy Beck
5 out of 5 stars
Everyone was so...
Great Lakes Dentistry
Marilyn Sullivan
5 out of 5 stars
Always a great...
Great Lakes Dentistry
Cheryl Bush
5 out of 5 stars
Quick & painless....
Great Lakes Dentistry
Michael Yocum
5 out of 5 stars

Copyright © 2017 Great Lakes Dentistry | Royal Oak, MI 48073 |  All rights reserved. DISCLAIMER: This website is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide any dental or medical advice, nor provide any diagnosis of any kind. Contact your physician or dentist regarding your individual, specific conditions. Great Lakes Dentistry assumes no liability by providing this information and provides no guarantee or assurances pertaining to treatment, outcomes, or results described. All images used on this website are either free use images or copyright of Great Lakes Dentistry. Content may be used only with the expressed written consent of Great Lakes Dentistry and Shawn Van de Vyver, D.D.S.. All specialty services provided by Shawn Van de Vyver, D.D.S., Raymond Kim, D.D.S., and Kristina Thelen, D.D.S., licensed general dentists. Shawn Van de Vyver, D.D.S., Raymond Kim D.D.S., and Kristina Thelen, D.D.S. are not board certified specialists in oral surgery, periodontics or orthodontics. Pre-treatment evaluation required for all procedures. Not all patients qualify for advertised treatment. 6 Month Smiles is a registered trademark and is not a substitute for comprehensive orthodontics. Advertised treatment length is average and individual treatment times may vary.

Get Dr. V's Book FREE

Just your name and email gets you your very own copy of iSmile: Why I Love Modern Dentistry and You Should Too. Enjoy! Please email me personally with any questions you might have about how modern dentistry can give you the smile you deserve.

Great! It's on the way now! :-)

A Consumer's Guide to Sleep Apnea

Get a free copy of my book "A Dental Consumer's Guide to Sleep Apnea" that will answer all your sleep apnea questions, and you don't even have to come in to the office!

Great! Your Consumer's Guide is on the way! Check your inbox shortly.