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Rye Smiles for Life
10614 Warwick Avenue, Ste A, Fairfax, VA 22030

Obstructive Sleep Apnea—What Is It, How Does It Affect You and How Can Dr. Rye Help?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious sleep disorder that can greatly affect your health and even lead to premature death. Fortunately, Dr. Gordon Rye at Rye Smiles for Life is a trained and experienced dentist when it comes to identifying and treating obstructive sleep apnea!

Obstructive sleep apnea is chronic and affects over 20 million Americans. Today, many cases of obstructive sleep apnea still go undiagnosed!

What Happens When You Have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

During OSA, muscle relaxation causes your airway to be entirely blocked or narrowed which causes breathing to stop during sleep. When this happens, your body wakes up so the airway can open and you can breathe normally again. However, generally you fall back asleep shortly afterwards and the process begins all over again. Most people have no recollection of this in the morning.

The soft tissues in the back of your throat obstruct your airway with OSA, which can cut off your oxygen supply. Your sleep is disturbed multiple times every hour as you brain wakes you up momentarily to breathe. Some individuals find their breathing restricted from their tongue as it falls backwards. Fortunately, sleep apnea treatment can keep your airway open, allowing you to get restful sleep.

The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

Dr. Rye at Rye Smiles for Life in Fairfax, VA is proficient at recognizing the signs and symptoms associated with sleep apnea. In fact, dentists are the most common doctors to recognize the signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea in their patients. This is because when visiting Dr. Rye for a checkup, symptoms such as dry mouth or throat, fatigue, and snoring are often mentioned. Since people typically visit their dentist more often than a doctor, Dr. Rye is more likely to recognize these symptoms.

If Dr. Rye believes you have obstructive sleep apnea, he can refer you to a sleep specialist who will do more extensive testing. A sleep specialist will conduct a physical exam, review your medical history, and may even perform a sleep study to determine if you have OSA. Obstructive sleep apnea can be treated by Dr. Rye with an oral sleep appliance and lifestyle changes as suggested by your doctor.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

There are many signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, as the cessation of breathing during sleep deprives your body of necessary oxygen and negatively impacts your health.

While snoring, morning headaches, and daytime fatigue are some of the most common symptoms, not everyone will experience these symptoms. If you suffer from OSA, you may also have the following:

  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Emotional disturbances
  • Feeling groggy in the morning
  • Awaking from sleep choking or gasping
  • High blood pressure
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling tired all day
  • Loud snoring
  • Waking up with a sore throat or headache
  • An inability to concentrate
  • Poor memory
  • Falling asleep involuntarily during the day
  • What are the Risk Factors for OSA?
  • Obstructive sleep apnea causes include:
  • Excessive weight
  • Thick tongue
  • Large neck size
  • A family history of OSA
  • A small jaw bone
  • Being a male over age 40

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, ask Dr. Rye at your next checkup if obstructive sleep apnea could be the problem!

Health Risks of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to many other chronic diseases, which is why addressing OSA is so important!

Among other health issues, obstructive sleep apnea has been connected to:

  • Heart disease. People with OSA are more likely to suffer from heart attacks and stroke. This could be a result of the stress of waking up so often during the night from being unable to breathe, as well as from low oxygen in the blood.
  • Diabetes. Since your sleep is so disrupted with obstructive sleep apnea, this prevents your body from being able to properly utilize insulin. As a result, it’s suspected that 80% of people with diabetes have OSA.
  • High blood pressure. Not only does OSA worsen existing hypertension, but it can actually cause it in people with obstructive sleep apnea. The constant waking stresses your body, disturbs your hormones, and the lack of oxygen from cessation of breathing can all trigger high blood pressure.
  • Obesity. Since obstructive sleep apnea can disrupt your hormones, it can lead to weight gain and even obesity. People who are overweight or obese are also more likely to suffer from OSA, making it harder to lose weight.
  • Accidents. Obstructive sleep apnea often causes fatigue in the daytime since your body isn’t getting the proper rest it needs. This fatigue can make you much more likely to get in accidents, such as falling asleep while driving, which increases your risk for accidental death.

How Dr. Rye Can Help

Treatment for obstructive sleep apnea can alleviate many of the symptoms that come with it! Obstructive sleep apnea is commonly treated with oral sleep appliances by the most skilled Fairfax VA dentist, Dr. Rye. Dr. Rye is not only trained to recognize the signs of obstructive sleep apnea, but is also experienced in treating patients who have OSA with oral sleep appliances. These devices are worn at night and help keep your airway open while sleeping, resulting in an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea!

Dr. Rye at Rye Smiles for Life in Fairfax VA uses the MicrO2 oral sleep appliance device to effectively treat sleep apnea in patients. The MicrO2 is a compact yet effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. It eliminates snoring and helps keep your airway open and unobstructed. It’s comfortable and is designed to fit seamlessly into your mouth.

When OSA is properly treated, you can reduce blood pressure, decrease your risk for heart disease and diabetes, and maybe even lose weight. Most of all, treating OSA with Dr. Rye results in a proper night’s sleep, ensuring you’re awake enough to experience a new day!

Are you experiencing any signs or symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea? If you suffer from headaches, fatigue, or snoring, you could be at risk for a chronic sleep disorder that’s hugely impacting your life. Talk to Dr. Rye at Rye Smiles for Life about sleep apnea and how he can help!

Can a Dentist Treat My Sleep Apnea in Fairfax?

Yes, there are several options in Fairfax to treat your diagnosed OSA. You need a diagnosis and sleep study first, to determine if you have mild, moderate or severe OSA. Your overnight sleep study also sets a baseline to determine the effectiveness of the treatment you select. Additionally, you need a diagnosis in order for your insurance company to cover your treatment.

A sleep doctor can coach you on the lifestyle changes that will reduce the severity of your symptoms and help your overall health. He or she may also suggest that you use a CPAP breathing machine.

A dentist can offer a sleep apnea mouth guard to keep your airway open and your tongue in the correct position. The mouth guard is an effective alternative to a CPAP machine.

Dental Appliance for Sleep Apnea

Is a Sleep Apnea Mouthpiece Difficult to Wear?

Many patients feel that the mouthpiece, which is similar to a retainer, is easier to wear than a CPAP machine mask. Since it is custom made from a mold of your teeth, the mouthpiece should fit well, but our dentist will adjust the mouthpiece as needed to ensure your comfort. You should start feeling the effects of restful sleep quite soon.

How Much Is an Oral Appliance for Sleep Apnea in Fairfax?

The cost for an oral appliance varies, depending on the type of oral appliance and the number of follow up appointments needed. Call our office to arrange a consultation with one of our dentists. He or she will be able to give you an estimate after reviewing your needs.

What Is included in Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT)?

OAT includes your dentist helping you select the best appliance for you, making an impression of your teeth for the dental lab, fitting the appliance, making adjustments and giving you instructions on how to use the appliance.

How Can I Get My Dental Insurance to Pay for OAT?

Typically, your health insurance covers OAT, since a physician’s diagnosis determines your treatment. Coverage varies; however, many health insurance companies pay for oral appliances since untreated OSA increases your risk of having a stroke or a heart attack. Contact our office if you have questions about your medical insurance coverage for OSA.


Rye Smile’s Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea Changes Patients’ Lives

Here we offer a selection of case studies of our actual patients who have received sleep apnea treatment, and their feedback on how the treatment truly changed their lives for the better.

Case Study #1

“I snored for years. A sleep study revealed I had severe, life-threatening sleep apnea. Dr. Rye and his knowledge of sleep apnea and dental appliances greatly improved my life.”

This patient came to Dr. Rye after having a sleep study that revealed severe sleep apnea. “It was keeping my wife awake. She started telling me about how I was not breathing at night, I would take a big gasp of air and that was making her nervous.”

After the study revealed revealed sleep apnea, the patient immediately thought of Dr. Rye. “I was aware that Dr. Rye did dental appliances for sleep apnea. I was also aware that he wore one. When I found out that I needed one, I came back to Dr. Rye and said, ‘Let’s go with this.”

The treatment dramatically changed this patient’s life. Fitted with a simple dental appliance to help keep his airway open, his symptoms of sleep apnea have decreased and a follow-up study revealed almost no signs of sleep apnea. “I sleep every night. My wife isn’t disturbed by my snoring because I don’t. My ability to think and reason was greatly improved. My numbers were significantly improved—almost normal—in a follow-up sleep study.”

Now, the patient no longer has to worry about experiencing the harmful effects of sleep apnea, and he didn’t need a cumbersome CPAP machine to help. “Dr. Rye and his knowledge of sleep apnea and dental appliances improved my life!” He says.


Case Study #2

“After years of sleep studies and CPAP machine misery, Dr. Rye suggested an oral appliance. The results were amazing. Dr. Rye is a lifesaver. Truly grateful that he has added years to my husband’s life!”

This patient of Dr. Rye’s was using a CPAP machine for his sleep apnea before he found out about oral sleep appliances, which help to keep the airway open while sleeping to prevent obstructive sleep apnea.

His wife was so tired of having to deal with the CPAP machine that she was eager for another solution. “Dr. Rye suggested that he treat my husband with an oral appliance. Since that was the only hurdle to us both getting a good night’s sleep without an intrusive machine, we decided to give it a try.”

They both couldn’t be happier with the results. “The results were amazing. There is no more snoring. We were warned it may take some time for the appliance to work, yet on the first night there was peace and quiet for us both! Dr. Rye is a lifesaver.”

Now, both she and her husband can get a full night’s rest, and best of all, her husband no longer has worry about the detrimental effects of sleep apnea thanks to Dr. Rye’s treatment. His CPAP machine is now a thing of the past.

“My whole family uses this practice and they have taken such good care of us—from regular cleanings to veneers and now sleep apnea. There is no better dentist, hygienist, or staff,” says his wife of Dr. Rye’s practice. “They are compassionate, concerned, feel like family, and they take all the pain out of going to the dentist. Couldn’t recommend them any more highly—Dr. Rye truly loves what he does and is passionate about his practice!”

Dr. Rye is happy to have helped this patient and his wife overcome their burden of dealing with sleep apnea.


Sleep Apnea FAQs

Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that can disrupt a person’s life by affecting their concentration, physical coordination and mood. Snoring is the most obvious symptom of sleep apnea, but the disorder a breathing problem that is caused by issues involving the throat. Treatment can come from a sleep specialist, a surgeon or a dentist. Here are some of the most common questions people have about sleep apnea and treatment options.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a cessation of breathing that occurs during sleep. The periods of not breathing last for only seconds or even less, but happen frequently; possibly hundreds of times during a night’s sleep.

What causes sleep apnea?

The breathing stoppage occurs when air is blocked by tissues in the back of throat or sometimes by the tongue falling backward.

Why do I sometimes hear the term obstructive sleep apnea? Are there different kinds?

Yes. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea, and as the name implies, it is caused by an obstruction to the air passageways. Other types of sleep apnea involve neurological signals and do not involve obstructions.

Does snoring cause obstructive sleep apnea?

No; obstructive sleep apnea causes snoring. Snoring is a symptom caused by air trying to get through the blockage.

Are sleep apnea products advertised on television effective?

Sleep apnea needs to be treated on an individual basis. Over the counter or TV-advertised products are not effective treatment methods.

What are some other symptoms of sleep apnea?

Fatigue or a constant feeling of being tired even if you think you get enough sleep, trouble concentrating and irritability are all signs that you may have a sleep disorder.

I’ve heard that a dentist can treat sleep apnea. How?

Dentists like Dr. Gordon Rye can treat sleep apnea by fitting a patient with an oral appliance that fits like a mouth guard. This device is worn while sleeping and gently positions the teeth, jaws and tongue correctly so that air can pass through unobstructed.

What are the advantages to dental treatment for sleep apnea?

CPAP or other treatment from a medical doctor works well for many sleep apnea sufferers, but for those who find it uncomfortable to wear the mask, dislike the sound of the machine or want a smaller or more portable solution that does not require electricity, an oral appliance may be the ideal solution.

Can I visit Rye Smiles for Life to be tested for sleep apnea?

Dr. Rye can recognize symptoms of sleep apnea, but in order to be diagnosed it is necessary to have a sleep test performed by a doctor. Dr. Rye can make a referral to a sleep specialist.

Can sleep apnea be cured?

No, it is an ongoing condition that can only be treated to control the symptoms and allow free breathing during sleep. While you are undergoing treatment by Dr. Rye, he can continually monitor your situation and make adjustments to your oral appliance as necessary.

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  • Monday
    8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Tuesday
    8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Wednesday
    8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Thursday
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Rye Smiles for Life

10614 Warwick Avenue, Ste A, Fairfax, VA 22030

(703) 565-2503