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It is recommended that every person gets at least seven hours of sleep each night, on average. If you are in bed for this long, or longer, but still wake up feeling tired, then you could be suffering from a sleep breathing disorder such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) or High Upper Airway Resistance (HUAR).

A patient with obstructive sleep apnea or HUAR experiences blockages or threats to his or her airway. The blockages can be complete or partial. Each time one of these blockages happens, the air supply is threatened, and the body awakens at least partially to signal the brain that it is not receiving a sufficient quantity of oxygen. The sufferer is often unaware of these awakenings. Many patients with sleep apnea snore loudly or make gasping sounds while they sleep – but some don’t.  A severe case of sleep apnea leads to these blockages happening hundreds of times during a given night.

Many patients with sleep apnea never realize they have the disorder. With HUAR, they may not even stop breathing.  Just the scare to the brain of the possibility of losing the airway disrupts the sleep.  If sleep apnea or HUAR go untreated, they can increases your risk of chronic, potentially life-threatening ailments including cardiac disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression. The association with these potentially deadly conditions is why sleep apnea also is coming to be known as the silent killer.

For many, a prominent symptoms of sleep apnea is loud snoring. Snoring on a frequent basis or breathing regularly through the mouth can both be considered symptoms of a sleep breathing disorder.  For women and children, there is often no snoring at all.

The office of Brian Hockel, DDS, is experienced in sleep apnea and airway dentistry and orthodontics. An airway-aware dentist or orthodontist has additional training to recognize sleep breathing risks and to help treat the disorder. Treatment for airway problems will vary, depending on the type and severity of the disorder. Ideal treatment will eliminate snoring and restore healthy sleep.  This could involve orthodontics, orthopedics, jaw growth guidance, repositioning the lower jaw at night with an oral appliance to open the airway or, for some, use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which is worn at night to maintain a flow of air through the airway. Only a sleep apnea dentist can treat the disorder by addressing its cause—the facial growth and airway issue.

If you or a member of your family struggles with sleep, is fatigued during the day, has been diagnosed with sleep apnea or exhibits any of the major symptoms such as daytime sleepiness, hyperactivity in kids, or frequent snoring, this is not a problem that will go away on its own. Ignoring it could literally cost you your life one day. Contact our office at 925-478-7776 to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Dr. Brian Hockel and Dr. Rebecca Jardine are proud to serve patients from Walnut Creek, Clayton, Concord, and Lafayette, California, as well as from the greater San Francisco East Bay area and beyond.