14933 W. State Highway 29, Liberty Hill, Texas 78642

(512) 515-0171

Thad H. Gillespie, D.D.S. Chris Felicetta, D.D.S.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Dr. Gillespie Provides Patients With Restricted Airway and Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

Do you snore throughout the night? Have you often woken up after a full night’s sleep feeling as if you still haven’t rested at all? Like most people, you probably think about snoring as merely an annoyance. You’re right; it is unwelcome, often causing a snorer’s bed partner frustration and loss of sleep. But did you know that snoring could signal a serious disorder called sleep apnea? More than just a nuisance, sleep apnea could aggravate many health problems and cause others. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but if you are concerned that you might be at risk, consider undergoing a sleep study evaluation. If you’re diagnosed with restricted airway or sleep apnea, conservative treatments are available. Dr. Gillespie offers comfortable, effective oral appliances to treat those with sleep apnea at his Liberty Hill dental practice.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

OSA is a sleep-breathing condition that occurs when a patient’s airway is periodically restricted during the night. There are many possible causes for this blockage, including improper jaw position during sleep, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, and excessive relaxation of throat muscles. Whatever the cause, the effect is that those with sleep apnea stop breathing for 10 seconds or more at a time. Eventually, the brain will signal a sleeper to awaken, and he or she will do so abruptly, but usually not completely enough to remember the episode by morning. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to daytime drowsiness, short-term memory loss, and even high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack, among other issues.

Do you have sleep apnea? Try this test.

Epworth Sleepiness Scale
(A Subjective Measurement of Sleepiness)

This scale allows you to determine if your lack of quality sleep is preventing you from functioning appropriately during your daily activities. If you are in the moderate to extra severe range, you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.

0 = would never doze

1 = slight chance of dozing

2 = moderate chance of dozing

3 = high chance of dozing

Chance of dozing
Sitting and reading 0 1 2 3
Watching TV 0 1 2 3
Sitting, inactive in a public place (e.g. a theatre or a meeting) 0 1 2 3
As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break 0 1 2 3
Lying down to rest in the afternoon when circumstances permit 0 1 2 3
Sitting and talking to someone 0 1 2 3
Sitting quietly after a lunch without alcohol 0 1 2 3
In a car, while stopped for a few minutes in the traffic 0 1 2 3


0-5          No Symptoms      13-16     Moderate

5-8          Mild                     17-20     Severe

9-12       Mild-Moderate      21-24     Extra Severe

Predictors of Obstructive Sleep Apnea include:

Large neck

Reports of gasping by bed partner
Loud snoring
Pharyngeal Grade over 2
Scalloped tongue

How is Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treated?

Traditionally, a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine would have been prescribed for people diagnosed with sleep apnea. While this device is effective if used properly, its bulk and accompanying facemask can prove too unwieldy or uncomfortable for the average patient. Dr. Gillespie can prescribe an alternative treatment, called an oral appliance, which sleep apnea patients wear during sleep. This custom-fabricated appliance will ensure proper jaw and tongue position and keep your airway open throughout the night. If you have sleep apnea, an oral appliance could restore the deep, uninterrupted REM sleep you may have been living without.

Don’t ignore the signs of sleep apnea. Being diagnosed and treated is easier than you might think. To start the process, call our office today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gillespie. If indicated, he can refer you to a sleep lab, and if it proves necessary, provide a custom oral appliance that will allow you to sleep deeply and without interruption from sleep apnea. What are you waiting for?

Sleep, Snoring, and Sleep Apnea

Sufficient rest and sleep are fundamental to your overall health! It is a basic physiological drive. You need air. You need water. You need food. And you need sleep! In a 2005 survey by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), 75 percent of adults had at least one symptom of a sleep problem such as snoring or waking a lot during the night. If you are concerned with your sleepiness level, please complete the Epworth Sleepiness Scale on our website, www.libertyhilldental.com, under For Our Patients.
Here are some other statistics of interest:
  • People who lack regular high quality sleep increase their chances for a heart attack by 23 times. It is 11.1 for those who smoke!
  • Newer studies show that sufficient sleep deprivation has been compared to a blood alcohol level of 0.10. You are legally drunk at 0.08.
  • Four hours of sleep plus one beer equals eight hours sleep plus six beers
  • A drop from seven hours of sleep to five hours, doubles your risk of cardiovascular death
  • Over 40 percent of Americans sleep less than five hours a night
  • People with sleep deficiencies suffer from a number of issues that lead to weight gain. 100 percent of the contestants on “The Biggest Loser” get treated for sleep apnea.
  • 40 percent of adults snore; two-four percent suffer from obstructive sleep apnea
  • Sleep apnea sufferers are 300 percent more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident.
  • People that suffer from sleep apnea suffer from elevated blood pressure
  • Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that by treating one person’s sleep apnea and snoring allowed their spouse to get up to one additional hour of sleep each night during the same amount of time in bed.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a medical condition that requires a physician diagnosis prior to treatment. OSA is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. With each apnea event the brain briefly arouses the person to resume breathing.
Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea usually starts with continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP). A great percentage of patients cannot or choose to not wear their CPAP even though the delivery systems have become much more comfortable. It is estimated that only 30 percent of people with a CPAP actually wear them. An alternative to this treatment is an oral appliance prescribed by a dentist.
Oral appliances are very effective for mild to moderate sleep apnea. Oral appliances are also a good alternative for those with severe sleep apnea who will not wear a CPAP. Oral appliances usually include parts that fit over the lower and upper teeth that work together to move the lower jaw forward thereby opening the airway. Some people have reported oral appliances are more comfortable than CPAPs.
If you or a loved one snores or is concerned about sleep apnea, contact us. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and will not wear a CPAP, definitely call us. We can help. We work with medical doctors to help get you back on track. Please visit our website, www.libertyhilldental.com to see more articles like this or to email us directly. You may also find us on Facebook.
Until next time, go Panthers!

Call us at (512) 515-0171 with any questions or to schedule an appointment with Liberty Hill Dental.

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