What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when there are multiple episodes of complete or partial blockage of the upper airway during sleep. During an episode, the diaphragm and chest muscles are working harder to open the obstructed airway and pull air into the lungs. Breathing usually resumes with a loud gasp, snort, or body jerk. These episodes can interfere with getting proper sleep. They can also inhibit the flow of oxygen to vital organs and cause irregular heart rhythms.

Sleep Apnea can come in many different varieties and with many degrees of severity, and can even be called several different names (Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Sleep Disorder Breathing, Central Sleep Apnea, Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome, Snoring, etc.)

One thing that can be agreed upon is that if left untreated it can lead to serious illnesses, and even death.  The issues are first and foremost that the body is not getting an adequate amount of oxygen, which is critical for living a healthy life, and additionally, this lack of sleep causes severe drowsiness that can lead to many social, physical and psychological problems.

What are the symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Loud snoring
  • Observed episodes of breathing cessation during sleep
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Awakening with chest pain
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty concentrating during the day
  • Experiencing mood changes, such as depression or irritability
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Having high blood pressure

If you experience, or if your partner observes, the following, it’s important to contact a health professional:

  • Snoring loud enough to disturb your sleep or that of others
  • Shortness of breath that awakens you from sleep
  • Intermittent pauses in your breathing during sleep
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness, which may cause you to fall asleep while you’re working, watching television or even driving a vehicle

How do you know if you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

The most important thing that needs to be done if you suspect that you may have OSA is to get a diagnosis as to the type and severity of the problem.  In the past, the only option to accomplish this was to go to an unfamiliar environment (sleep lab), get hooked up to many wires and try to sleep while strangers are watching you through a camera lens.  Most people DO NOT sleep normally in that environment no matter what.

Often times individuals that are carrying some extra weight are prime candidates for sleep apnea issues, but the idea that younger, healthy patients never have these problems is entirely a myth.  Many young boys and girls have inadequate airway, possibly due to overly large tonsils and adenoids, a very narrow dental arch, a soft palate issue or even an enlarged tongue.  This can lead to sleepiness, lack of attentiveness and often times the individual might be mis-diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and put on medications and the real problem is just that they are not sleeping well.  It is very important to get the diagnosis made early and prevent it from ever being a serious issue as an adult.

Get a diagnosis at home!

Thankfully, at Strevey Dental we have a take-home device that provides a home sleep study and the results will produce a diagnosis to determine the next step that works best for you.  What most people do not realize is that if they do have ‘Sleep Apnea’, there may be options for them to treat the problem.

Solutions for treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea

One of the most commonly used devices is a noisy and obtrusive CPAP machine, and this is certainly indicated for those who have severe problems.  For Mild, and sometimes Moderate sleep apnea, a device can be made that fits onto the teeth, much like an orthodontic retainer.

The oral appliance will help posture the lower teeth open and forward which will greatly increase the flow of oxygen and it can be adjusted to adequately get people sleeping better.  The oral appliance chosen would be less obtrusive and more comfortable than a CPAP machine, and certainly easier to transport if someone travels a lot.


Dear Dr. Strevey & Staff,

I had been using a CPAP machine for a little over 3 years to help with my moderate sleep apnea diagnosis and although the CPAP has helped with being able to get a better night’s sleep it has always been quite uncomfortable and not very easy to get used to– which is why I wanted to switch to the SUAD device. I came to Strevey Dental to obtain a SUAD device and everyone made me feel very comfortable along with being very courteous and informative every step of the way. The SUAD device has changed every night’s sleep. I no longer have a mask and hose to deal with, which was very cumbersome, instead I wear the SUAD device which is very simple to install and is very effective. Your staff was very knowledgeable and explained every step of the process with great detail.

The cost of the SUAD device was less than my CPAP machine but that cost was reduced even more since you were able to bill my medical insurance, which reduced the overall cost by 30%. Thanks to my new SUAD device I now get a great night’s sleep every night and since I no longer snore or have the loud CPAP machine going all night it allows my wife to be able to get a good night’s sleep as well. I am very thankful I switched to the SUAD device and even more thankful to Dr. Strevey and the Strevey Dental staff for being very kind, courteous, and the best Dentist Office to go to for the SUAD device and any other dental needs.

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