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What is Sleep Apnea?

Ever been told you snore? Do you wake up with headaches? Do you clench or grind your teeth? Do you get up frequently during the night? Do you feel fatigued or tired the next day after sleeping all night? You might have sleep apnea, which is a result of loss of air for more than ten seconds or reduced air (30 to 50%) for ten seconds many times an hour while sleeping. Sixty percent of the population snores regularly, and 60% of people over the age of 40 have obstructive sleep apnea.

Loss of adequate air during sleeping hours can lead to many health issues, such as hypertension, diabetes, acid reflux (GERD), depression and anxiety. An examination by Dr. Laura B. Ousley could reveal:

  • A large tongue that is blocking the throat during sleep

  • A scalloped tongue that is trying to push forward during sleep

  • A large neck size creating a small airway

  • Wear on the teeth from grinding during sleep

  • Large uvula or tonsils

  • Large tori (bone growth) in the lower jaw

  • Small arch size

  • Cracked or chapped lips from mouth breathing

Airway image for sleep apnea
Oral Appliance Therapy
Airway imaging machine

Think you may have sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder marked by interruptions and pauses in breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by obstructions in the airway, such as the tongue rolling back in the throat or collapsed tissues in the throat. Untreated sleep apnea can contribute to several serious health conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and liver problems.

Sleep apnea must be diagnosed by a sleep physician. We recommend that you talk to our dentist, as well as your doctor, if you suffer from the symptoms of sleep apnea. Common signs of sleep apnea include:

  • Extreme drowsiness during the day

  • Personality changes and irritability

  • Difficulty staying asleep

  • Snoring

  • Awakening with a very dry or sore throat

  • Frequent morning headaches

American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine
American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine

How do you stop snoring?

After having an overnight test or a home sleep test, the results are diagnosed by a sleep physician who determines if the patient has mild, moderate or severe sleep apnea. The physician can recommend a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, an OAT appliance (oral appliance therapy) or a combination of both.

The use of the CPAP is the best choice if a patient is compliant with the machine. However, only 25% of patients after a year are actually using it. The OAT device is very effective in treating mild to moderate sleep apnea with a compliance rate as high as 90% over a two and a half year period. Using an OAT device with a CPAP ensures a patient is opening the airway and obtaining adequate air for the majority of their sleeping hours.

Dr. Ousley offers a variety of oral appliances to treat any patient with a custom fit.​ The OAT device is retested with a home sleep test to ensure reduction of apnea episodes and to obtain a healthy range. Regular follow-up appointments are made to check the OAT appliance and the patient’s results. If you are interested in oral appliance sleep therapy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, contact us at 405-755-4450 today! Our dentist and team will be happy to assist you.

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