In the first two videos (Part 1 and 2) on sleep apnea Dr. Rockey spoke about the definition of sleep apnea, that its a breathing order that disrupts sleep. He spoke about the importance relative to the oral-systemic component, and how medically far-reaching the effects are if you have a significant apnea issue. Although dentists can’t -officially diagnose sleep apnea, dentists like Dr. Rockey are in a unique position to help screen and educate our patients, if they do have an issue. We get our patients pointed in the right direction to get the necessary treatment. Screening and being officially diagnosed for Sleep Apnea is important because it can seriously affect you medically.

Additionally, Dr. Rockey covered the screening process, for which the goal is to get the patient tested. Once your test is administered, whether its taken at home or in the laboratory, data is gathered. When we get the report back that shows:

  • How many hours you slept
  • Number of good testable sleep hours you got
  • Oxygen saturation level
  • Heart rate
  • Snoring intensity
  • Sleeping position (back or side
  • How many times you were awakened
  • Correlation of all the factors listed above

We review, analyze and explain the data to our dental patients and help make sense of this to them. It’s important to look into the issue further if the results are significant.

In the video Dr. Rockey points out the graphing of the data over the two-night test, whether its done at home or in the laboratory. Although you can’t see all the particular numbers and details, the data/results show when you were asleep or awake, how you were awakened, oxygen saturation levels, head position, snoring intensity and heart rate. Dr. Rockey also points out one particular area on the graph whet we see the apnea issues corresponding to lowered oxygen level, poorer head position, sleeping on their back, being awakened multiple times to breathe, a very heavy snoring component, and an elevated heart rate during that time period.

On the sleep test report, we can look down at any particular point in time and we can logically see exactly what is happening and that’s important for us to be able to scan the graphs identify significant problems that are occurring at night. The sleep test reports are generated and signed by a medical-licensed individual who are able to make the official diagnosis. At the top of the report is what we want to know, the AHI (Apnea-Hypopnea Index) score which represents the number of events of struggling to breathe at night, per hour. There is also information that is provided regarding previous findings related to family history of Sleep Apnea, weight, body mass index, hypertension that helps builds a case, given the big-picture of what is going on health-wise.

Depending on where the AHI number is, that will indicate the severity of the problem, whether you’re mild, you’re moderate or severe.

In the next video (Part 4: Sleep Apnea: Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea), Dr. Rockey will go over exactly what the results of what may need to be done in treatment options.

This video/article is one in a four-part series on Sleep Apnea.
Click here to see the series of videos (playlist):