Sleep Apnea: The Unknown Thief of Sleep

Woman Yawning.jpeg

Forget sleeping in. If you aren't sleeping at all and commonly wake up gasping for air, have excessive tiredness during waking hours and suffer from persistent snoring, you may have Sleep Apnea.

Learn more about this little known sleep-deprivation causing disease and ways that dental sleep medicine can help treat its symptoms.


What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common and serious disease where you stop breathing while sleeping due to your airway getting blocked. Consequentially, less oxygen reaches your lungs and your brain resulting in your body being oxygen deprived.  When this happens you may snore, choke or gasp for breath, resulting in you waking up from sleep.

 Healthy Airflow During Normal Breathing and Restful Sleep

Healthy Airflow During Normal Breathing and Restful Sleep

 Blockage of the Airway During Apnea Causing Oxygen Deprivation

Blockage of the Airway During Apnea Causing Oxygen Deprivation


Sleep Apnea is More Common Than You May Think, But Being Diagnosed Isn't

In America alone, the Journal of Epidemiology estimates that 26% of adults between the age of 30 and 70 suffer from sleep apnea - that's roughly 1 out of every 4 grown adults. Shockingly, however, is it estimated that up to 80% of Sleep Apnea cases go undiagnosed.


The Long Term Health Consequences Associated with Sleep Apnea Can Be Severe

The short term consequences of sleep apnea can often appear normal, or harmless:  waking up in the morning feeling unrefreshed, excessive daytime sleepiness, and difficulty concentrating. 

However, the long term consequences of this oxygen deprivation are significant negative health consequences which include: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression.


"If you have untreated sleep apnea you are four times more likely to have a stroke and three times more likely to suffer from heart disease."


Ways to Tell If You Could Have Sleep Apnea

Waking up gasping for air, the inability to sleep, excessive tiredness during waking hours and persistent snoring are the most common symptoms of Sleep Apnea.

Other symptoms include morning headaches, excessive use of the restroom at night, daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, and decreased sex drive or impotence.


Self-Screening for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Complete the following screening, called the STOP BANG Questionnaire, to determine if you could be at risk for OSA. 

Part 1
1. Do you snore?
2. Do you feel fatigued during the day? Do you wake up feeling like you haven’t slept?
3. Have you been told you stop breathing at night? Do you gasp for air or choke while sleeping?
4. Do you have high blood pressure or are on medication to control high blood pressure?

Part 2
1. Is your BMI greater than 28?
2. Are you 50 years or older?
3. If you are a male is your neck circumference greater than 17 inches, if you are a female, is it greater than 16 inces?
4. Are you a male?

If you answered yes to two or more questions in the part 1 portion you are at risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  The more questions you answered yes to in the part 2 questions the greater your risk of having moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea.



If you are at risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea, it is recommended that you see your general physician or a pulmonologist for a complete diagnosis and recommended treatment.

Dental Sleep Medicine  is an area of dentistry provided at the Port City Dental Center that focuses on the use of oral appliance therapy to treat sleep-disordered breathing, including snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Patients are fitted with a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) which is worn at night to open the airway by moving the mandible (the lower jaw) forward.


Dr. Mike DeFee is Qualified by the American Association of Dental Sleep Medicine


Dr. Mike's father suffered from Sleep Apnea and, after having hesitations using a CPAP, was able to achieve treatment success with Dental Sleep Medicine through the introduction of a Mandibular Advancement Device.

Seeing the results first-hand inspired Dr. Mike to pursue qualification through the AADSM and introduce the benefits of this focused treatment to patients in the Wilmington area.