Sleep Disorder

  • Do you snore?
  • Do you wake up tired in the morning?
  • Do you suffer from headaches? Acid reflux?
  • Do you have high blood pressure?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could be suffering from sleep disordered breathing.

Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB)

Is defined as labored respiration during sleep caused by airway obstruction. If you suffer from SDB, as you fall asleep you experience a loss of muscle tone called airway patency. The soft tissues in your airway relax against the tongue, partially cutting off air flow to your lungs. SDB can be severe to the point of complete airway collapse. Those who suffer from SDB experience breathing difficulty ranging from mild to acute; snoring, upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS), and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Snoring is always indicative of the development or or existence of a sleep breathing disorder. UARS is more common in younger women, and is often accompanied by headaches, Gastroesophegeal Reflux (GER), and asthma. OSA is, as defined by the National Heart, Lung and blood institute, “a breathing disorder characterized by brief interruptions during sleep… repeated periods of no breathing for at least10 seconds at a time.” These periods are called apenic events and can last longer than one minute.

Risk Factors Includes:

  • Weight gain
  • Increasing age
  • Family history
  • Malformation of the orofacial area (misaligned teeth, jaw,palate)Bruxism (teeth grinding)
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Menopause
  • Progesterone/Estrogen deficiency
  • Anatomy and physiology of the airway

Your Dentist can help.

How? Sleep Disorders Dentistry.

SDD concentrates on reducing respiratory distress (your breathing problems at night) by determining the location and degree of airway obstruction and placing your airway in optimal breathing position to restore its patency.

In order to determine the severity of your sleep disordered breathing problem, your dentist will “map” your nasal passages and your oral airway with a quick and painless technique called acoustic reflection technology. ART draws a picture of your nasal passages and oral airway with sound. After pinpointing the location and degree of the airway obstruction, your dentist will treat you with Oral Appliance Therapy.

When mapping your airway with ART, your dentist employs a suite of diagnostic equipment called Eccovision, a self contained processor emitting soundwaves through two tools: the rhinometer and the pharyngometer.


The rhinometer test is performed first, in order to check the nasal passages. This tool helps rule out any obstruction or enlargement in the turbinates as the cause of your sleep disordered breathing problem. If an obstruction or enlargement is discovered, your dentist will refer you to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist right away.


The pharyngometer is used to map the cross sectional diameter of the oral airway and measure its stability. This allows the dentist to discover existing points of obstruction as well as your optimal breathing position.

In addition, the pharyngometer is instrumental in determining your eligibility regarding successful oral appliance therapy.

Oral Appliances

After establishing your optimal breathing position, your dentist will fit you with an oral appliance. An oral appliance looks like an athletic mouth guard, but much less bulky. Using the Eccovision, your dentist can place the oral appliance correctly, allowing for maximum airway patency. The oral appliance gently holds your jaw in the right position to maintain proper airway function as you sleep. Successful treatment is achieved by simply wearing the oral appliance at night.

It is important that you treat your disordered breathing problem as soon as possible.

SDB has been linked to

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hypertension
  • Ischemic Stroke
  • Attention deficie/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD)
  • Depression
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Family discord
  • Increased mortality

Sleep is a major part of our overall health.

The following is a brief quiz from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine may provide a clue as to how healthy your sleep is.

If you answer true more than twice, you may want to discuss this quiz with your dentist, physician, or other health care professional. Ask about the possibility of oral appliance therapy.


  • I feel sleepy during the day, even when I get a good night’s sleep.
  • I get very irritable when I can’t sleep.
  • I often wake up at night and have trouble falling back asleep.
  • It usually takes me a long time to fall asleep.
  • I often wake up very early and can’t fall back asleep. I usually feel achy and stiff when I wake up in the morning.
  • I often seem to wake up because of dreams.
  • I sometimes wake up gasping for breath.
  • My bed partner says my snoring keeps her/him from sleeping.
  • I’ve fallen asleep driving.