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Airway and Sleep Apnea

Do you or your child snore at night? Or wake up in the morning feeling you did not have a restful night? You or your child may be suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by episodes of interrupted sleep at night due to the inability to breathe. As a result, the quality of sleep is poor, causing excessive daytime sleepiness and the inability to focus on tasks.

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea where the airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep. Symptoms of sleep apnea include the following:

  • Loud snoring
  • Episodes of pauses in breathing, usually witnessed by another person
  • Morning headache
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Abrupt awakening during sleep accompanied by shortness of breath
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Attention problems, including inability to concentrate
  • Memory or learning problems
  • Dry mouth or sore throat in the morning
  • Irritability and mood swings

Treatment for Sleep Apnea

There are various modalities that can be used in the treatment of sleep apnea. The most common is a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device, where a machine creates a gentle flow of air (positive pressure) into your throat. This pressure keeps your airway open while asleep. CPAP can cause several side effects including dry stuff nose or irritated skin on your face (due to the mask).

An oral appliance can also be used to help treat sleep apnea. The device may resemble a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. The device prevents the airway from collapsing by holding the tongue in position or by sliding the jaw forward when asleep. Oral appliance therapy is recommended for patients with mild to moderate apnea who cannot tolerate CPAP.

  1. Mandibular repositioning devices reposition the lower jaw forward to keep the airway open while asleep and are the most commonly used oral appliances.
  2. Tongue retaining devices hold the tongue in place to keep the airway open.

Dr Chong is proud to be a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and stays abreast of all the current research and treatment techniques in sleep apnea.

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Cherissa Chong Doctor