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Sleep Apnea & Snoring

Sleep Apnea: The Silent Killer

What is sleep apnea?

It is said to have contributed to the death of football great Reggie White at the age of just 43, and Dr. Glenn Schmidt believes it would have eventually taken his life. Sleep apnea is a serious, potentially deadly sleep disorder that affects millions of Americans, including children. People who have sleep apnea actually stop breathing for 10 seconds to 30 seconds at a time during their sleep, and these episodes can happen up to 400 times every night. Although it would seem like our bodies would immediately respond to a cessation in breathing, unfortunately it can take some patients up to 120 seconds before they begin to breathe again! So why does this happen? Sleep apnea actually comes down to an airway issue. Dr. Schmidt says think of it like a garden hose. When you bend a garden hose, most of the water is trapped and can't get out. Patients with sleep apnea have closed off or restricted airways, especially when they lie down, which causes them to stop breathing.

Dr. Glenn Schmidt says sleep apnea wasn't just putting his life at risk during the night, it was also have a huge impact on his life during the day. He couldn't understand why after what appeared to be a good night's sleep, he was still feeling tired and run down. Dr. Schmidt says sleep apnea has also been implicated in traffic accidents and fatalities from drivers falling asleep at the wheel, and because there is a decrease in the amount of oxygen going to the brain, he says sleep apnea can ultimately lead to serious, life threatening conditions like heart attack and stroke. "I really feel like getting my sleep apnea diagnoses and treated saved my life. I think I was on a fast track to a heart attack or stroke, and I didn't even know I was suffering from the silent killer," said Dr. Glenn Schmidt. Fortunately Dr. Schmidt got diagnoses and treated in time, and says he now feels "200% better…It's been life changing!"

Who is most affected? How do I know if me or my child is at risk? Dr. Schmidt says sleep apnea can affect men, women, or children of any weight or age. However, overweight men with larger necks tend to be those at the highest risk.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea? (Remember, you don't have to have all of these symptoms to actually be diagnosed with Sleep Apnea. Presenting symptoms and the severity of a cases can vary from person to person)

  • Heavy, loud, chronic snoring
  • Choking or gasping during sleep
  • Long pauses in your breathing during sleep
  • Daytime sleepiness (such as falling asleep at work, while driving or when talking)
  • Irritability or fatigue
  • Headaches, forgetfulness, and a decreased interest in sex
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Waking up feeling out of breath

Sleep Apnea and Children

Yes, children can have sleep apnea! Unfortunately, because the symptoms mimic other common conditions, it can often be misdiagnosed in children.

What should you be looking for as possible signs that your child could have sleep apnea? During sleep, loud snoring is one symptom, along with bedwetting, excessive perspiration. The next day is often when parents should be looking for possible warning sighs. If your child is inattentive or hyperactive, it may NOT be ADD (a condition where medication is often prescribed). This could be sleep apnea. Other daytime symptoms can include irritability, hostile behavior, developmental problems, problems in class or a decrease in school performance, and breathing through the mouth instead of the nose. Because, once again, some of these symptoms do mimic other possible, sometimes serious conditions, it's important that parents get their children tested if any of these warning signs are present. Dr. Schmidt says in many cases with obstructive sleep apnea in children, the tonsils or adenoids are the culprits. If this is the case surgery can be done to remove the tonsils or adenoids and this usually corrects the problem. If it's determined that sleep apnea is the cause of your child's symptoms, but tonsils or adenoids aren't the cause, Dr. Schmidt says there are a number of relatively easy, affordable treatment options, like appliances that can be worn at night, that can be life-changing for your child.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

First and foremost, if you think you suffer from sleep apnea, you should call Riverbend Dental Center to set up an appointment with Dr. Schmidt. Dr. Schmidt says because this disorder can causes a patient to stop breathing for sometimes minutes at a time, it is something that deserves immediate attention. We also recommend clicking on this link, which can also provide you with some more insight into this condition. Dr. Schmidt, along with a licensed board certified sleep physician who can officially diagnose your condition, will determine the best course of action to treat your problem.

Take home sleep apnea test:

Riverbend Dental Center can now offer its patients the Embletta 100, a breakthrough in at home sleep diagnostics that can be done in the privacy of a patient's home in just one night. After a full consultation and medical history is done on the patient, Dr. Schmidt will provide the patient with the Embletta 100 to take home and wear overnight. The Embletta is an easy, affordable, painless way to get the answers a patient needs to potentially save his or her life from this potentially life-threatening condition.

What is the Embletta 100 and how does it work?

The Embletta system is the only PG device fully compliant with CMS and American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommendations for portable monitoring with two RIP technology channels, as well as a Nasal Pressure and Thermistor channel. The Embletta is the world standard for home sleep studies, boasting over half million studies worldwide, and has been designated by the American Sleep Medicine Foundation for use in their landmark study on Portable Monitoring in the Diagnosis and Management of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. After the patient takes the device home overnight, he or she returns the next day with the device, and Dr. Schmidt is able to easily upload the results to a secure server. A board certified medical sleep professional will then interpret the study and provide recommendations with Dr. Schmidt. Treatments can include, for severe cases, also seeing an outside specialist (sometimes cardiac), for some cases that are on the moderate to severe side, a CPAP device may be needed at night (what Dr. Schmidt now uses nightly for his sleep apnea as well as basketball great Shaquille O'Neil). There are some patients, however, who are able to find relief from wearing a custom mouthpiece (a dorsal fin mouthpiece is one of the most popular) at night.


In some cases, the Embletta test is covered by insurance. The Riverbend Dental Center staff will be able to assist you to find out if this is a benefit covered by your particular plan. For those paying out of pocket, the cost for the entire take home embletta test, including interpretation of results, is only $250 at Riverbend Dental Center. Knowing that sleep apnea can be a life or death situation, Dr. Schmidt wanted to make sure he could offer his patients an easy, affordable way to diagnose this potentially deadly condition. Patients could pay thousands of dollars to get diagnosed for sleep apnea at a sleep lab or hospital. The Embletta 100 is the most affordable, pain free, no hassle way to get the answers you need, all in the privacy of your own home.

Acoustic Pharyngometer and Rhinometer:

The Eccovision Acoustic Diagnostic Pharyngometer and Rhinometer provides valuable information about the airway's size and stability. While the official diagnosis of sleep apnea is made by a board-certified sleep professional, these state-of-the-art devices are two key components in Dr. Schmidt's overall approach to helping a patient determine if he or she may suffer from this potentially deadly disorder.

How it works:

The Eccovision device uses acoustic reflection technology to accurately map out the size, structure and collapsibility of the oral and nasal airway, and the data obtained from the Pharyngometer & Rhinometer tests is displayed on an easy-to-read graph immediately following these quick and painless tests.

Acoustic Pharyngometer

The Eccovision® Acoustic Pharyngometer allows users to quickly and easily measure a patients pharyngeal airway size and stability. The Pharyngometer graphically displays the relationship between the cross-sectional area of the airway and distance down the airway in centimeters. Studies have shown a clear relationship between the existence of OSA and a narrow, collapsible, airway. The Pharyngometer accomplishes these measurements using acoustic reflection technology, similar to a ship's sonar. Sound waves are projected down the airway and reflected back out in such a way that the Pharyngometer software can analyze and quantify changes in the airway's cross-sectional area. The test is minimally invasive and takes 2-5 minutes to complete.

Acoustic Rhinometer

The Eccovision® Acoustic Rhinometer allows for quick and easy measurements of nasal patency, and gathers information using acoustic reflection. Sound waves are sent up the nasal passageway and they are reflected back out in such a way that the Eccovision® Acoustic Rhinometer can accurately map out the topography of the nasal airway. This allows Dr. Schmidt to clearly identify the location and severity of any obstruction in the airway. The test is completely non-invasive and takes 30 seconds to complete.

Click here to watch our video on the numerous sleep apnea treatment options at Riverbend Dental Center

How is sleep apnea treated?

There are several treatment options for patients suffering from sleep apnea. Depending on the severity of your case, and also what you personally can tolerate, your physician and dentist will come up with the best treatment plan for your individual case.

In some cases, like Dr. Schmidt's, a CPAP machine is recommended. CPAP stands for Continuous positive airway pressure therapy. A CPAP machine is basically a mask connected to an air machine that's worn at night during sleep to help the patient breathe more easily. A CPAP machine increases air pressure in your throat so that your airway does not collapse when you breathe in. Some patients adjust to the CPAP easier than others, and Dr. Scmhidt says if you are just starting out with it, give it a little time. For Dr. Schmidt, the CPAP has been great, and he says he wakes up every morning feeling refreshed and well rested.

Sleep Apnea Appliances

For patients who can't tolerate the CPAP, or whose cases don't warrant using a CPAP device, Dr. Schmidt says there are appliances that can be worn at night to move the jaw in a more forward position and keep the airways open. Dr. Schmidt can discuss your options when it comes to available appliances during your sleep apnea consultation.


Usually snoring affects your significant other more than it does the snorer, and it has actually been the cause of friction among couples who can't get a good night's sleep (or sleep in the same bed) because of their partner's snoring. It's important to remember, not all people who snore have sleep apnea, even though many patients with sleep apnea do snore. At Riverbend Dental Center, Dr. Schmidt can provide patients with a number of diagnostic tools to help determine whether the patient is suffering from just snoring, or from a more serious condition like sleep apnea.

One of the oral appliance devices used at Riverbend Dental Center to treat sleep apnea is the NORAD. NORAD is a custom made mandibular repositioning device designed for the treatment of snoring and sleep apnea. The appliance works by repositioning the lower jaw downward and to a slightly more forward position, which allows the airway to remain open throughout the night.

Click here to watch a video on how the NORAD works


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© Copyright 2006 - Dental WebSmith, Inc. and Glenn V. Schmidt, DDS, MS. All rights reserved worldwide. Disclaimer: The information provided within is intended to help you better understand dental conditions and procedures. It is not meant to serve as delivery of medical or dental care. If you have specific questions or concerns, contact your health care provider.


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© Copyright 2006 - Dental WebSmith, Inc. and Glenn V. Schmidt, DDS, MS. All rights reserved worldwide. Disclaimer: The information provided within is intended to help you better understand dental conditions and procedures. It is not meant to serve as delivery of medical or dental care. If you have specific questions or concerns, contact your health care provider.