What is Sleep Apnea


If you’re one of the 22 million Americans with sleep apnea, a custom-made oral appliance can reduce your risk of serious health complications like high blood pressure and heart attack. The experienced team at MediDental Care dental clinic in Astoria, New York, can help identify sleep apnea during an office visit and then make your oral device after your diagnosis is confirmed. For a comfortable solution to correct your breathing, call MediDental Care in Queens or schedule an appointment online today.

Sleep apnea is a serious breathing disorder that is associated with sleep and causes the normal breathing flow to decrease or stop. Breathing obstruction in the pharynx can be complete (apnea) or partial (hypopnea) and can cause a decrease in the level of oxygen in the blood (hypoxia). The brain reacts to this lack of oxygen by causing micro-awakenings and by reducing your sleep to correct the respiratory flow.

These breathing pauses last an average of 10 seconds, but they can last up to 60 seconds or more - the amount of time it takes your brain to react to the problem. Your sleep is therefore disturbed, even if you are not fully awake and are not aware that you have woken up. Since this cycle repeats itself throughout the night, when you wake up, you will not feel rested.

snoring splint

Risk factors

The following factors can promote obstructive sleep apnea:

  • Severe overweight
  • Narrow airways (tonsils, adenoids, large neck circumference)
  • Most common in males
  • Sleeping pills and muscle relaxants
  • Tobacco consumption
  • Irregular sleeping hours


Indications for a health risk of obstructive sleep apnea

A whole range of symptoms give clear indications of a pathogenic sleep-related respiratory disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea:

  1. loud irregular snoring
  2. breathing stops during the night
  3. increased daytime sleepiness with the need to fall asleep during the day

risk of obstructive sleep apnea

The following other symptoms may be related to sleep apnea:

  • reduced physical and mental performance
  • Concentration difficulties, nervousness
  • High blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases
  • morning headaches and sore throat
  • nocturnal sweating
  • depressive mood and listlessness
  • loss of libido / impotence
  • Diabetes mellitus type 2
  • increased tendency to accidents
  • Bed-wetting for children among others


Medidental Care can help!

snoring splint


For snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea, a mandibular advancement splint made by a dentist can help. A splint is individually made and is attached to the upper and lower jaw. Both parts are connected by a technical part or the lower splint is equipped with plastic wings. Thus the lower jaw is held approx. 5-12 mm forward. Your airways are thus opened further during the night and snoring and obstructive sleep apnea improve significantly in about 80% of cases. Initially, the device has to be adjusted by a dentist at check-up appointments in order to optimize the therapeutic effect.

Lower jaw protrusion splints that the snorer wears during the night have proven their worth. They help by placing the lower jaw forward during sleep. This increases the breathing space behind the tongue and tenses the pharynx muscles. This keeps the airways open.

The dentist or orthodontist individually adjusts the splint to the patient's needs together with his dental laboratory. To this end, specialized dentists also work closely with sleep laboratories. These splints can be used to treat mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea. However, an important prerequisite for this is that teeth and gums are healthy.

These protrusion splints fix the lower jaw forward so that the airways are kept clear. The advancement of the lower jaw should be individually adjusted by the dentist, depending on the severity of the disease and taking into account a variety of other factors. Devices that are easily adjustable, even by the patient, are recommended.

In many cases, this not only eliminates snoring but can also significantly reduce breathing stops.

In moderate to severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, special positive pressure ventilation is recommended for the night, which ensures that sufficient oxygen reaches the lungs during sleep. If this device is worn every night, the quality of life increases considerably again. However, the acceptance and wearing time of these devices sometimes leaves a lot to be desired due to the nightly disturbance for patient and partner as well as pronounced side effects. If these masks are incompatible, an attempt can be made to treat breathing with a mandibular advancement splint.

mandibular advancement splint

How can the effectiveness of the mandibular advancement splint be checked?

The correct adjustment of the mandibular advancement splint is a basic condition for a good effect and few side effects. The following factors must be assessed to determine if the splint is fitted correctly:

  1. Snoring should be improved by 50-100% (partner survey)
  2. The breathing stops and choking should be eliminated
  3. Daytime sleepiness should be improved (Epworth-Sleepiness-Scale Questionnaire)
  4. An objective evaluation of the effectiveness by means of nightly polygraphs at home or polysomnography in the sleep laboratory is essential to confirm the success of the therapy.

Regular dental and sleep medical check-ups every 6-12 months are necessary to check the course of the complaints and the functional condition of the mandibular advancement splint.


How does sleep apnea syndrome develop?

Usually, the throat area is kept open by active muscle tension during inhalation. As a result of anatomical conditions, insufficient muscle tension or incorrect control, those affected experience a narrowing of the upper airways, which increases the flow velocity of the air column. This reduces the pressure in the throat area when inhaled so that a complete occlusion can occur when the throat muscles are slack.

Sleep apnea syndrome is a sleep-related breathing disorder and is usually associated with snoring. In the latter, however, the airways remain open, since the muscles only partially relax and collapse. Usually, the vibration of the soft palate (soft palate and suppository) in the turbulence of the airflow leads to the characteristic snoring sound.

But it can also come from other parts of the airways, such as the base of the tongue, the epiglottis or the tonsils. If you observe a person with sleep apnea syndrome during sleep, you can observe the typical alternation between snoring and prolonged suspension of breathing (apnea).

sound sleep astoria

How do you recognize sleep apnea syndrome?

The main symptom is loud, irregular snoring. In between, frequent breathing stops can be observed, which are terminated by an explosive (up to 90 decibels) restart of breathing. Breathing pauses trigger wake-up reactions (arousals) in the brain of the sleeping person. Although this prevents suffocation, sleep quality is severely disturbed.

This, in turn, has an impact on the state of mind during the day: those affected wakes up sleepy, feel exhausted. During the day, many show an increased tendency to fall asleep, are increasingly unable to concentrate and feel particularly sleepy in monotonous situations. This increases the risk of accidents many times over. This can lead to falling asleep (dangerous when driving a car) and a compulsive tendency to fall asleep.

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