Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is one of the most devastating diseases currently faced by the medical community, yet only 15% of sleep apnea patients are currently treated.

OSA has serious lifestyle impacts. Many know the difficulties from both prospectives: sleeping with a noisy spouse or, on the other hand, having a spouse constantly complain about the snoring or express concern when you stop breathing during sleep. There are better solutions than sleeping in a separate room.

These issues represent only the “tip of the iceberg.” If you have untreated OSA, you are severely risking your health.  OSA is a disease that typically progresses; it can lead to other diseases or make other diseases worse.  Chronic disease management of sleep apnea is critical to mitigating the impact of these diseases or perhaps even precluding them.

diseases associated with osa

Consider the statistics below; if you have OSA you are likely to have one of the associated (comorbid) diseases, and treating the OSA can have significant positive impact on the associated disease(s).  To make matters worse, there are more traffic accidents attributed to OSA than texting, cellular phone use while driving, or drinking under the influence of alcohol, combined.

Over 83% of men and 94% of women are undiagnosed, representing over 30 million in need of treatment. 95% of all OSA patients under treatment are self or spousal diagnosed; most go to their doctors when they become desperate for help.

Symptoms include:

  • Waking up choking or gasping for air, or being told you do so;
  • Frequently being told you stop breathing during sleep;
  • Frequently being told that you snore loudly; and/or
  • Being excessively and frequently tired during the day, or even falling asleep.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

sleep apnea cycle

Sleep apnea consists of a cycle of events that occur during sleep, usually without your awareness. After the onset of sleep, the upper airway muscle tone relaxes, allowing the airway to collapse, which partially or totally blocks the airway. This brings on a total interruption of breathing (an apnea) or a partial cessation of breathing (a hypopnea), which decreases oxygen levels and increases carbon dioxide levels. Your body becomes deprived of oxygen; you struggle to breathe, forcing you to take action to relieve the obstruction. Breathing resumes, oxygen levels increase, carbon dioxide is reduced; and you resume sleep.

This cycle can occur several dozen times per hour, severely assaulting the central nervous system; over time, this causes other serious diseases to develop (comorbid diseases), or if you already have one of these diseases increases the severity of it. OSA is a very serious disease which must be treated.

How is OSA Diagnosed?

Diagnosis begins with a simple questionnaire ( which will allow you and your doctor to determine if you are at risk for OSA. If you are positive to the assessment, a diagnostic test is prescribed.

If you have heard horrible stories about staying overnight in a Sleep Lab, don’t worry! Your Sleep Test can be completed in the comfort of your own bed…hassle free. The results of your home sleep test are then reviewed by a Certified Sleep Specialist who will make the final diagnosis, determine the severity, and make a treatment recommendation customized for you.

The severity of the disease is determined by measuring the number of breathing interruptions (apneas and hypopneas) throughout the night that last more than 10 seconds accompanied by a significant drop in blood oxygen levels. This measurement is defined as the Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI).  A FDA approved home diagnostic testing device measures four parameters while you sleep: the number of Apneas and Hypopneas, breathing effort, and oxygen saturation levels. OSA is considered mild with an AHI of 5-15/hour, moderate with an AHI of 16-29/hour, and severe with an AHI at or above 30/hour.

Take our Sleep Survey today!

How is OSA Treated?

Oral appliance

After our online Sleep Survey is taken, we will connect you with the right treatment option for you.

Oral Appliance Therapy

If you are one of the 70% who have mild to moderate OSA, you can be treated by an Oral Appliance (OA) called a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD).  Oral Appliance therapy, or the use of a retainer, advances your lower jaw slight forward and maintains it in that position during sleep, keeping your airway open; and it will also reduce or eliminate snoring. These retainers are molded to your mouth for optimum comfort by a ProAct Provider Health Network dentist. It has been shown that this option is a very comfortable option and that the user actually does continue to wear them once they have them.  Using this method, 70% of people can be successfully treated for sleep apnea.

CPAP Machine

If you are one of the 30% who’s OSA has progressed to a severe level, your provider will most likely prescribe Continuous Positive Air Pressure device (CPAP machine). Statistically, however, users of a CPAP machine will not stick with this method. For some patients who cannot tolerate using the CPAP machine, an Oral Appliance can still be used. Although this method will not be as effective for the more severe sleep apnea patients that require a CPAP machine, some kind of therapy is better than no therapy and you will still sleep much more comfortably than you did before treatment.

If your treatment does not work for you, we will find a solution that will work better for you.

All you have to do to get on your way to a better night’s sleep is to take ProAct’s survey. ProAct is a health network that will lead you to the right dental procedure for your sleep apnea.

Insurance Coverage

In most cases, your Medical Insurance will cover the costs associated with testing, diagnosis, and treatment.

OSA Patients using CPAP

It’s been said that there are more CPAPs in closets than being worn by patients in need. If that’s the case with you, read on.

Warning: Over 50% of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) patients cannot tolerate their CPAP. If that’s the case with you or a loved one, you should be aware that OSA has many associated chronic diseases, and going without treatment can increase the risk from them.

Recent studies have shown that Oral Appliance Therapy is an alternative treatment for most patients who have not tolerated CPAP and discontinued its use. Even with severe OSA patients, an Oral Appliance has been shown to reduce AHI significantly, which is much preferred to totally abandoning treatment. If you are one of these people that are looking for an alternative to the CPAP Bittner Dental Clinic can help you find an alternative solution .