What Is Sleep-Disordered Breathing?

Sleep-disordered breathing is the term used to pigeonhole an array of breathing-related sleep problems.

It starts with snoring, the mildest form of SDB. Snoring is loud breathing due to a narrow airway during sleep. If you experience interrupted sleep due to the collapsing of your airway, it’s called upper airway resistance syndrome. Some doctors claim that upper airway resistance syndrome is just a form of obstructive sleep apnea – the most serious form of SDB. This is a complete collapse of your airway. During an apnea, you cannot breathe at all and your body must wake you up to begin breathing again.

Los Gatos man snoring, needing sleep apnea treatment

Snoring – The Warning Sign of Sleep Apnea

Snoring is a very common phenomenon, roughly 90 million Americans snore. While snoring can be harmless, it’s important to note that it’s not normal. It’s your first clue that you might have a more serious condition like OSA, or that you may develop it. It can also be disruptive to your home life, waking your partner up throughout the night due to the noise. Snoring can also have health consequences, including atherosclerosis (hardened arteries), stroke, and falling asleep at the wheel.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is Deadly

The word apnea means to stop breathing. When you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), your tongue, soft palate, or other soft tissues collapse onto the back of your throat completely cutting off your airway. People who suffer from OSA stop breathing for 10 or more seconds at a time, sometimes more than 100 times a night. To start breathing again, you need to partially awaken, though you may not become aware that you’ve awoken.

Your body is literally choking you to death. The constant waking, even if you are not aware of it, causes daytime sleepiness at its mildest, or sleep deprivation at its worst. The lack of oxygen your body gets at night can lead to a host of serious health conditions.

If you think you might have sleep apnea, it’s important to become diagnosed as soon as possible.

OSA Has Been Linked To:

  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Right and left congestive heart failure
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Type II Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Injury/death due to automobile accident from excessive daytime sleepiness

Impacts both adults and children.

Sleep Apnea In Children

  • Failure to Thrive
  • Attention problems
  • Behavioral Issues
  • Academic under performance
  • ADD/ADHD and bed-wetting

Why Does Sleep Apnea Go Undiagnosed?

The most insidious thing about sleep apnea is that its most obvious symptom presents itself while you are asleep. Unless you have a bed partner who’s woken up to observe it (they usually do because your snoring is so noisy!), many people have no idea they have a night-time breathing problem. Studies show that, depending on the population, 80-95% of people with OSA do not have a diagnosis.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms To Look Out For:

Man with chest pain, could be due to lack of sleep apnea treatment

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Loud, disruptive snoring
  • Irregular breathing during sleep (e.g. Gasping, Choking, Long pauses)
  • Restless Sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Morning Headaches
  • Dry Mouth and throat
  • TMJ Symptoms

If you have one or more of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor or a sleep dentist about sleep apnea. Dr. Nehawandian is happy to refer you to a local sleep clinic for diagnosis.

Sleep Apnea Diagnosis

The only way to diagnose sleep apnea is with an overnight sleep study, which can be performed in a sleep clinic or at home. We may use questionnaires or other screening tools to decide if you will benefit from a sleep study. The study measures how often your breathing is interrupted, the quality of your sleep, the oxygen levels in your blood, your heart rate, and your body movements.

Serving patients in the San Jose area, Dr. Nancy Nehawandian of Top Down Dental in Los Gatos will examine the results of your sleep study and work collaboratively with your sleep physician to determine the most effective sleep apnea solutions for you.

Treatment For Sleep Apnea

There are some simple ways you can contribute to your treatment at home. If you are overweight, shedding some pounds will help reduce the amount of airway blocking tissues you have in your neck and throat. But don’t feel surprised if this is hard. Sleep apnea interferes with your body’s metabolism. You are more likely to eat more and store fat when you have sleep apnea. In addition, sleep apnea interferes with your ability to exercise.

You can also practice good sleep hygiene by not going to bed completely exhausted. Going to bed overtired causes you to sleep so deeply your throat muscles become over relaxed and cut off your airway. You’ll also benefit from sleeping on your side (you snore most when you sleep on your back), quitting smoking, exercising regularly and avoiding alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals near bedtime.

However, if you have moderate to severe sleep apnea, you’ll probably need a medical or dental sleep apnea solution too. That’s where Dr. Nancy Nehawandian comes in. Her dental practice, Top Down Dental in Los Gatos offers many sleep apnea solutions for patients in the San Jose area: such as the following.

Oral appliances are custom-made devices designed to keep your airway open by repositioning your lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula, stabilizing your lower jaw and tongue and increasing the muscle tone of your tongue.

DNA appliances are similar to oral appliances but rather than the temporary solution of keeping your airway open through mandibular advancement, they holistically treat your sleep apnea by expanding the jaw while using it in the hope of not having to use an oral appliance or CPAP in the future.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines deliver pressurized air through a tube and mask that covers your nose. Just like blowing up a balloon, the force of the pressurized air acts as a splint to keep your airway open. Surgical procedures are another treatment modality for OSA.

Surgery usually consists of removing the excess tissue in your throat. It may also be necessary to remove your tonsils and adenoids (especially in children), your uvula, or parts of your soft palate and throat.

For children, sleep apnea treatments are a little different. See here for more information.

Get Healthier Sleep With Treatment in San Jose

Sleep apnea is a serious condition. Luckily there are many effective treatments. If you have symptoms, it’s important to address them sooner than later. At Top Down Dental, Dr. Nancy Nehawandian can work with your physician to find the right sleep apnea treatment for you. Dr. Nehawandian is committed to helping patients treat sleep apnea and is a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM). Contact her for  treatment in the San Jose area at her dental office in Los Gatos.

Sleep apnea treatment gives immediate benefits. It helps you sleep better, feel healthier, and happier, increase energy, and sleep quieter. To learn more about sleep apnea treatment, contact Top Down Dental by emailing us, or calling (408) 354-5600.