People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have disrupted sleep and low blood oxygen levels. When obstructive sleep apnea occurs, the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and airflow stops. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears, and the flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp. Certain types of intra-oral sleep apnea appliances are designed to pull the lower jaw slightly forward. Since the tongue is attached to the lower jaw, the tongue moves forward as well, opening the airway.
A recent sleep study (polysomnography or PSG) and a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea are required to be considered for an evaluation appointment.
Repeated cycles of decreased oxygenation may lead to very serious cardiovascular problems. Additionally, these individuals suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, and loss of concentration.
OSA is a very serious condition that needs careful attention and treatment. Most major medical plans offer coverage for diagnosis and treatment.