Sleep Apnea and Nighttime Breathing Disorders

Apnea is a sleep disorder in which a person pauses breathing, or has abnormal decreases in breathing while asleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. These episodes can happen a few times per hour and can be much higher in frequency and can even be over 100 events per hour. These events arouse the brain out of REM sleep and prevent the body from fully resting.

Each time an event occurs the brain is essentially suffocating of oxygen. This causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure because the body is fighting for air. This commonly leads to high blood pressure in people that can be difficult to control even with medications. This significantly increases a person’s chance of having a stroke.

 

Dental symptoms are very commons. You dentists will notice a scalloped tongue, dry mouth, teeth grinding, tooth erosion and TMJ problems. The reason this happens is because in this state of panic people grind their teeth and move their stomachs in unnatural ways in an effort to breath resulting gastric reflux.

One of the most dangerous side effect is the effect on the brain and body organs. The brain is deprived of oxygen which results in memory problems and even brain damage which has been linked to Altzeimers disease. Day time sleepiness and confusion are another major symptom and have been linked to automobile accidents.

It is commonly thought that being overweight is the cause of sleep apnea. While being overweight does make things worst it is not the sole cause of apnea. The more important factor is the size of the airway and airway muscle tone. People with low muscle tone and soft tissue around the airway are at risk, especially if obese.

The Phayrygometer


The Eccovision® Acoustic Pharyngometer allows users to quickly and easily measure a patients pharyngeal airway size and stability from the Oral Pharyngeal Junction to the Glottis.

The Pharyngometer graphically displays the relationship between the cross-sectional area of the airway and distance down the airway in centimeters.
Studies have shown a clear relationship between the existence of OSA and a narrow, collapsible, airway. The Pharyngometer accomplishes these measurements using acoustic reflection technology, similar to a ships sonar.

Sound waves are projected down the airway and reflected back out in such a way that the Pharyngometer software can analyze and quantify changes in the airways cross-sectional area. The test is minimally invasive and takes 2-5 minutes to complete.

Sleep Disorders Dentists use the Pharyngometer to screen patients prior to diagnosis. A narrow airway reading on the Pharyngometer correlates to higher Apnea Hypopnea Indices once the person is diagnosed. After diagnosis the pharyngometer helps to show us how the airway changes in repsonse to mandibular advancement. It has been concluded that the pharyngometer was accurate in ruling out patients who would not benefit from oral appliances 95% of the time.

Data from Pharyngometer & Rhinometer tests is displayed on an easy-to-read graph.
Screen Yourself: Take The Stop Bang Test