Sleep Apnea is the term used to describe the sleep condition in which breathing stops and starts throughout the night. There are three general classifications of sleep apnea (obstructive, central, and complex) and these are determined by the factor that is causing the problem. Dr. Leila Suki is a dentist in Houston who has extensive training in the field of sleep apnea and treats patients from Houston and across the state of Texas.
For the purpose of our discussion, we are going to focus on Obstructive Sleep Apnea – where factors such as obesity, large tonsils or small airway, cause the interrupted breathing. The level of the condition ranges from mild to moderate to severe and is characterized based on the number of breathing start/stop cycles that your body goes through during an hour of sleep.
OSA is problematic because the multiple stop/start cycles of breathing significantly affect the quality of the patient’s sleep, and as such can affect the person’s overall health. The importance of a restful night’s sleep and the health benefits it brings is well documented.
Interrupted sleep is associated with many medical conditions including: atrial fibrillation, hypertension, diabetes, impotence and early death, to name a few.
Patients often are made aware of the possibility of having OSA when their partner reports constant snoring, or loud noises related to breathing during the night. Consequently, one of the most common ways that OSA is diagnosed is with a sleep study. There are convenient home testing devices that can be prescribed (HST), or a polysomnogram (PSG) test where the patient stays overnight in a sleep laboratory at a medical facility.
These tests measure and record breathing patterns, oxygen levels and other vital information. With this data in hand a diagnosis is made by a board certified sleep doctor and is sent to the providers, which may include the physician and dentist.
In the case of an OSA diagnosis, the providers will communicate about the best treatment modality for the patient. The options are usually a CPAP device which involves wearing a mask on the face to deliver pressurized air, or a MAD which is a dental device worn in the mouth to open the airway.
Please know that snoring alone is not to be underestimated as a sleep disruptor! Snoring is definitely a sleep disorder and is also associated with health consequences. We can treat snoring with dental devices that allow the patient a better night’s sleep.
There are many treatment modalities available for patients who suffer with OSA, and there are several ways that Dr. Suki can help patients in the Houston area who suffer from sleep apnea.