What is obstructive sleep apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition in which breathing stops involuntarily for brief periods of time during sleep. This is normally due to the narrowing of the airway at the back of the throat. Periods when breathing stops are called apneas or apneic episodes.
Click on the video on the right for an explanation of obstructive sleep apnea and how it may be affecting your sleep and wellbeing.
Sleep apnea symptoms
Snoring is the most common reason why most people go to their doctor to discuss their sleep. Often, this is at the direct request of their sleeping partner!
Another early sign of sleep apnea is falling asleep easily in the daytime – normally in front of the TV or on public transport.
Other symptoms of OSA include:
• Poor concentration
• Morning headaches
• Depressed mood
• Weight gain
• High blood pressure
• Lack of energy
• Reduced sex drive
• Erectile dysfunction
• Night sweats
• Frequent urination at night
Sleep apnea is a serious and relatively common condition. More than
1 billion people around the world may have sleep apnea, and up to 80% of these patients may not be treated. Untreated sleep apnea has been linked to:
• High blood pressure
• Heart disturbances or arrhythmias
• Heart failure
• Car and truck accidents
• Work accidents
The good news is that diagnosis, and successful sleep apnea treatment can relieve the symptoms and reduce the long-term risks to your health.
For further information about sleep apnea, the Mayo Clinic in the US is a great reference source. To go to this page, click here.
Sleep apnea causes
There are two main types of sleep apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). 85% of people with sleep apnea have OSA, and a sleep test will help your doctor determine which one you have.
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the muscles in the back of your throat relaxing and interfering with your breathing while you sleep.
The picture on the left shows air flowing through the nose and mouth during breathing in a person without sleep apnea. Click to scroll and see what happens during sleep apnea.
When you go to sleep, the muscles at the back of your throat relax, as shown in the picture on the left. Because your airway is partly blocked, you’ll start to snore. If the airway becomes completely blocked, you can’t get any air into your lungs, and if this happens, you have sleep apnea.
Your airway may narrow or be completely blocked many times per night without you being aware of it. This constant narrowing and blocking of the airway reduces oxygen to the brain, making you feel sleepy and without energy the next day.
When your airway is completely blocked, your brain responds to the low oxygen level in your blood by briefly waking you from sleep so that you can take a breath. Your partner may notice that you make a gasping or choking sound when this happens. Constantly being woken up during the night means you don't get into a deep sleep, so you don't wake up feeling refreshed and energetic.
Diagnosing sleep apnea
If you think you might have sleep apnea, follow the steps below:
Try an online sleep assessment to see if you should
book an appointment with your doctor
See your GP or Family Physician
Talk to your Family Doctor. They will examine you for some of the common medical conditions for poor sleep and may also use a sleep screening tool to determine if you have the typical symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.
See a Sleep Physician
Your doctor will arrange for you to have a sleep test/exam
This may be conducted in a hospital with an overnight stay (called a polysomnography or PSG test) or you may be able to do your sleep test at home using a Home Sleep Test.
Your sleep test will determine your Apnea/ Hypopnea Index, or AHI which is a measure of the severity of your sleep apnea.
See a Dentist for your SomnoDent® oral device
Your Sleep Specialist may send you to a dentist for an oral appliance. The dentist will examine your teeth to make sure they are suitable for an oral appliance, and then take a scan or make a model of your teeth. SomnoMed® will use this to make your oral appliance. The dentist will also make a second appointment for you to pick up your device.
Receive device and fitting
With SomnoMed®’s advanced manufacturing processes, your second visit should be quick and easy. Your Dentist will show you how to place the device in your mouth, how to adjust it and how to clean it. We aim for fit first time, every time, so you can start using your appliance that night, and start feeling the benefits of treating your sleep apnea.
Every patient is different and we have helped individual patients on their journey in finding a solution.
Find out what they went through and how it feels to wear a SomnoDent® oral appliance.
“Before I found my sleep dentist I was sleeping with my CPAP device. This posed several problems for me. Most are the obvious: wearing the CPAP mask, trying to sleep with a hose attached to your face, having to travel with it, and then my allergy issues became more severe.
Maintenance is a pain as well. My SomnoDent® device has allowed me to enjoy life a bit more without the hassle of a CPAP. And, there is the added benefit of not having to make sure I have a source of power available. Which means, I can go camping again! I would recommend the SomnoDent® device to anyone with obstructive sleep apnea. It is life changing.”
For years I fought with my CPAP, I literally tried 15 masks and I will never ever go back to CPAP after discovering SomnoDent®. I love it and so does my family because they can finally sleep in peace.
I can carry it, no more lugging around that extra CPAP baggage, I just throw my SomnoDent® device and case in my backpack and keep going. I truly am a big fan and if I can encourage others to switch to SomnoMed®, I know for a fact their quality of life would improve tremendously. Here’s another thing, I had a problem with grinding my teeth at night, not anymore!
Mandy & Al Mermelftein's story
Although a bit reticent at first in the use of this tool, once I began using it and finding out how good a night’s sleep I could have after so many years of bad nights and untold other alternatives which always proved useless, I am now happy to let you know that thanks to SomnoMed® I am able to sleep very well and also that my wife can now enjoy a good night’s sleep without my racket at night.
“With a household to manage, motherhood, night school for advanced degrees, and two jobs – good sleep seemed an unattainable goal. Over the years of sleep deprivation, my health steadily declined with resultant hypertension, chronic sinusitis, and eventually atrial fibrillation.
I had a sleep study that showed moderate obstructive sleep apnea. A second study to fit a CPAP mask was a dismal failure – 14 different masks and nothing fit.
My dentist suggested a SomnoDent® and my life has turned around since I received it. My husband is delighted that I no longer snore. I’m off my blood pressure medications. I truly feel like a new person with much more energy. I can’t thank you folks enough for my SomnoDent®. I’m convinced it has literally saved my life.”
Shirley's, Jesus' & April's stories