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Frequently Asked Questions

Sleep Apnea

What is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), commonly called sleep apnea, is a sleep disorder in which a person ceases to breathe multiple times throughout the night due to partially or completely blocked airways. The condition occurs when the tongue or throat tissues intermittently relax and block the airway during sleep.

What are common symptoms of sleep apnea?

Common symptoms include snoring, frequent breaks in breathing, daytime sleepiness or fatigue, morning headaches, restless sleep, depression, frequent nighttime urination, acid reflux and irritability.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

A certified sleep specialist will diagnose sleep apnea based on a review of family and medical history, a physical exam, and a sleep study. Sleep studies can be done in a sleep lab or at home with a portable monitor. Dr. Sever is our in-house sleep physician who can assist in the analysis of your sleep study and determining if you have sleep apnea.

How is sleep apnea treated?

Sleep apnea treatment options include:

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine - CPAP is the most commonly prescribed treatment for sleep apnea. The machine forces continuous airflow through your nose to prevent the airway from collapsing when muscles relax during sleep. This results in a continuous oxygen level throughout the night. Unfortunately, many wearers do not or cannot tolerate the machine for various reasons and seek alternative forms of treatment.

Oral appliance therapy - A custom-fit oral device available through Star Sleep & Wellness is a highly effective, non-invasive option for sufferers of sleep apnea and snoring. The device fits similar to a sports mouthguard and is comfortable, quiet, and easily portable for travel.

Surgery - Surgery is performed to remove or reposition the tissues in the throat to stop blockage of the airway. Our team will provide a sugery-based diagnosis should we determine that you require surgical intervention.

What are the risks of untreated sleep apnea?

If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to a number of serious health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression.

How common is sleep apnea?

It is estimated that 22 million people in the US suffer from sleep apnea, yet as many as 80% of cases of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as other ailments.

What can increase the risk for developing sleep apnea?

Obesity, age, the presence of enlarged tonsils or adenoids, frequent alcohol consumption, and smoking can all put individuals at an increased risk. Heredity and physical traits such as a large neck can also play a role in developing sleep apnea.


What causes snoring?

Snoring is caused by a blockage in the nasal or throat cavity that restricts the passage of air and one’s ability to breathe easily. Poor muscle tone can cause the tongue or throat tissues to relax and narrow the passageway.

Is snoring normal?

Snoring is a very common condition. Occasional snoring is usually not very serious. If snoring occurs habitually, however, it will likely disrupt sleep patterns and affect the quality of sleep.

How to stop snoring?

Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, minimizing alcohol and tobacco use, and regular exercise can help reduce snoring. There are also a variety of over-the-counter treatment options available--nasal sprays or cones, or special pillows--that may provide temporary relief. If snoring persists, the best thing to do is see a sleep specialist to determine the cause.

Could snoring be a symptom of a greater sleep issue?

Occasional snoring is likely not a sign of underlying problems. Frequent snoring, on the other hand, may be a symptom of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder defined by intermittent cessation of breathing while asleep.

What are the risks of untreated snoring?

Snoring can cause strain on the heart, leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke. Snoring can also cause low oxygen levels in the blood, which can lead to pulmonary hypertension.

Oral Appliances

How do oral devices treat sleep apnea and/or snoring?

Oral appliances support the jaw in such a way that prevents the throat muscles and tissues, and the tongue from falling back into the airway and causing obstruction of airflow during sleep.

What are the advantages of oral device therapy?

Oral appliances are a highly effective, non-invasive treatment option for snoring and sleep apnea. Devices are comfortable, quiet, easy-to-wear, easy to clean, compact, and portable for travel. 

Are there possible side effects of wearing an oral device?

Each appliance is custom-fit to the wearer by Dr. Smith and his sleep assistants to significantly reduce the possibility of a patient experiencing side effects. When they do occur, side effects are typically minor, particularly when considering the risks of leaving the disorder untreated or ineffectively treated. Side effects may include jaw or tooth discomfort, excessive salivation, or dry mouth. Changes in bite or TMJ symptoms are rare, but also possible.

Will insurance cover oral device therapy?

Oral appliances are covered by most medical insurances. We work closely with patients and their insurance to obtain pre-authorization and to ensure that coverage amounts, including any out-of-pocket costs, are fully disclosed and understood prior to treatment. If you have a traditional Medicare plan with a separate supplemental policy, treatment is almost always at no cost to you.

Other Questions

What are common types of sleep disorders?

There are many different types of sleep disorders. Learn About Other Sleep Disorders

What should I expect for my first visit?

To find out more about what will occur during your first visit, please take a look at this page:

Learn More About Your First Visit