Did you know that if you have sleep apnea that it can shorten your lifespan by 7 to 8 years? Did you know that having sleep apnea puts you at greater risk for stroke or heart attack?

Obstructive sleep apnea is defined as someone that stops breathing while sleeping. Sometimes this can be accompanied by loud snoring. The cessation of breathing is caused by muscles in the throat area relaxing and the tongue falling back in the throat, blocking the airway. The severity of sleep apnea is defined by the number of times per hour someone stops breathing in their sleep. Someone with severe sleep apnea stops breathing more than 25 times per hour while they are sleeping. The body subconsciously wakes up when it realizes it isn't breathing, leaving the person to wake up the next morning feeling unrefreshed.

My dad has sleep apnea. In his quest to treat his own condition he took a continuing education class on treating sleep apnea with dental appliances. After taking the class, he decided to invest in an airway evaluation device as well some take home sleep monitors. In the past couple of months he has successfully treated a number of mild to moderate sleep apnea patients with dental appliances. (If someone is found to have severe sleep apnea, then a continuous positive airway pressure machine is recommended.)

As a part of our sleep apnea screening we ask the following questions:

1. Are you likely to fall asleep or doze off if you are:
a. Sitting and reading
b. Sitting in a public place
c. Driving a car stopped for a few minutes in traffic
d. Sitting down quietly after lunch without alcohol
e. Watching TV
f. As a passenger in a car for one hour
g. Sitting and talking to someone
h. Lying down to rest in the afternoon
2. Have you gained 15 pounds or more in the last six months?
3. Have you ever been told that you snore?
4. Does your snoring occur almost every night?
5. Would you or someone hearing you sleep consider your snoring louder than a person talking?

If you answer yes to two or more of the above questions, then you could be at risk for sleep apnea and an evaluation of your airway opening would be a good idea.

Kari Ann Hong, DDS
1000 Newbury Rd. #190
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320