The Smile Enhancement Studio | Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

What is Sleep Apnea?

Apnea is a condition in which the airway closes off so that the air cannot flow into the lungs. This usually happens in the deeper part of the sleep cycle when the muscles relax. The airway blockage reduces the amount of oxygen reaching the brain and the body, resulting in the brain alerting the muscles around the airway to tighten up and unblock the airway.  Apneas may co-inside with bruxism or teeth grinding, an oral component of bracing or tightening to open up the airway. Excessive grinding can cause problems in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and/or Temporomandibular Disorder(TMD) related symptoms. As the airway opens, a loud gasp or snort is heard, which may cause you to sit up or move violently before falling back to a light sleep. This repeated blocking and un-blocking of the airway can prevent you from achieving a deep, restorative sleep.   OSA is largely undiagnosed but is a life threatening condition.  It has been suggested that 90% of sufferers haven’t been diagnosed, that 1 in 4 men, and 1 in 10 women suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea 90% of loud snorers suffer from OSA, but interestingly enough, 50% of OSA sufferers don’t snore.  Therefore, treating snoring without treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea may be covering up a bigger problem.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are three types of sleep apnea. The most common is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and occurs due to a physical blockage, usually the collapsing of the tongue and the soft tissue in the back of the throat. Less common is central sleep apnea (CSA), in which breathing stops because the muscles involved don’t receive the proper signal from the brain. Some people suffer from “mixed” or “complex” sleep apnea, which is a combination of obstructive and central.

[button-yellow url=’screening-questionnaire/’]OSA Screening Questionnaire[/button-yellow]

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive apneic episodes consist of a cessation of air flow (>90%) at the mouth and nose for more than 10 seconds with an accompanying 4% oxygen desaturation. Hypopneic events require 30% reduction in airflow with the accompanying 4% oxygen desaturation.  The severity is categorized by the frequency of apnea and hypopnea episodes:

  • Mild: 5 to 15 episodes per hour
  • Moderate: 15 to 30 episodes per hour
  • Severe: more than 30 episodes per hour

Apnea can last from 10 to 120 seconds, resulting in at least partial awakening. A severe apnea patient may have as many as 300 episodes per night.


What is a mandibular advancement device?

If you have sleep apnea, then a mandibular advancement device (MAD) may represent a solution and a better night’s sleep!

The MAD is a specially designed, custom dental device to be worn at night.  It keeps the lower jaw, or mandible, in a comfortable forward, Neuromuscular position holding the tongue forward thereby increasing the space between the airway passage, helping you breathe better and get a full, quiet night’s sleep.

Mandibular Advancement Devices are the treatment of choice for mild and moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and for people with severe Sleep Apnea who are CPAP intolerant.  A MAD is also an effective treatment option to treat snoring.

Contact The Smile Enhancement Studio to get your MAD and rest well!

Questions? Contact us at (250) 492-2608 or by email at and we’d be happy to answer them.

Penticton Dentists - The Smile Enhancement Studio is one of Penticton's most sought after oral health facilities in Penticton, British Columbia.