Sleep-related breathing disorders have a significant negative impact on quality of life. However, not everyone who suffers from these disorders realizes they have them. Many people think they just snore a lot or feel tired often without knowing why. It is important that people know the symptoms and get the treatment they need. Perhaps the most common sleep-related breathing disorder is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is caused by an obstruction of the airway during sleep, cutting off breathing and preventing air from getting to the lungs. The usual site for this obstruction is the soft palate to the base of the tongue where there are no rigid structures to maintain an open airway.
Obstructive sleep apnea is often thought of as an “adult” condition, but the truth is that anyone of any age can have sleep apnea—even infants. In some cases, OSA has been discovered to be the cause of behavioral and attention problems in children. Enlarged tonsils and small structural features of the maxilla/nose, mouth and throat may contribute to childhood OSA.
OSA is not a condition that can be diagnosed or treated at home. Any symptoms of OSA should be taken seriously, as it is a potentially life-threatening disorder. OSA is a medical condition that is diagnosed by a medical doctor, but can be treated by a dentist with the proper training on these disorders. At present, the primary method for diagnosing OSA is to have the patient undergo a sleep study, known as Polysomnography (PSG) or Home Sleep Test (HST). We are happy to assist our patients in coordination of any necessary sleep testing.