Basics Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

More than just snoring, Obstructive Sleep Apnea has been shown to be associated with several other health issues including heart problems, diabetes, and of course sleep issues/tiredness5. This post was written to describe some of the terms used with OSA

A diagnosis from a Medical Doctor is needed for OSA, but dentists can help direct their patients to doctors who specialize in sleep medicine.

  1. OSA – Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A disorder where there are multiple episodes of upper airway collapse that inhibits breathing, so no oxygen is getting to the brain or body.1
  2. CPAP – Continuous Positive Airway Pressure: Commonly associated with the CPAP machine that send pressurized air into the airway to help open up a collapsed airway and deliver oxygen to the lungs and hence the body2.
  3. Apnea: Temporary stoppage of breathing
  4. AHI – Apnea/Hypoapnea Index: Essentially the number of times that the body experiences no breathing per hour.
    • This is further categorized into severity based on how many times someone has a stoppage in breathing:
      • Normal= Less than 5 apnea events per hour
      • Mild= 5 to 20 apnea events per hour
      • Moderate= 20 to 40 apnea events per hour
      • Severe= 40+ apnea events per hour3
  5. MAS – Mandibular Advancement Splint: An oral appliance that attach to upper and lower jaws with the goal of moving the lower jaw forward to increase airway patency. There are several other terms for this type of splint/device all meaning about the same thing.
  6. UPPP – Uvulo-palatopharyngoplasty: This is a surgery which aims to decrease the size of the uvula and other surrounding pharyngeal structures to help open the airway4.
  7. PSG – Polysomnograph: This sleep test is considered the gold standard for evaluation of OSA and can be administered at home6
    • HSAT: Home Sleep Apnea Test

Screening for OSA is often underutilized. But getting patients who need care for OSA help can change their lives not to mention sleep better!


  1. Spicuzza, L., Caruso, D., & Di Maria, G. (2015). Obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome and its management. Therapeutic advances in chronic disease6(5), 273–285.
  2. CPAP: Resources, sleep Apnea machines, & masks. Sleep Foundation. (2021, July 9). 
  3. Berry, R. B., Budhiraja, R., Gottlieb, D. J., Gozal, D., Iber, C., Kapur, V. K., Marcus, C. L., Mehra, R., Parthasarathy, S., Quan, S. F., Redline, S., Strohl, K. P., Davidson Ward, S. L., Tangredi, M. M., & American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2012). Rules for scoring respiratory events in sleep: update of the 2007 AASM Manual for the Scoring of Sleep and Associated Events. Deliberations of the Sleep Apnea Definitions Task Force of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine8(5), 597–619.
  4. Aurora, R. N., Casey, K. R., Kristo, D., Auerbach, S., Bista, S. R., Chowdhuri, S., Karippot, A., Lamm, C., Ramar, K., Zak, R., Morgenthaler, T. I., & American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2010). Practice parameters for the surgical modifications of the upper airway for obstructive sleep apnea in adults. Sleep33(10), 1408–1413.
  5. Shahar, E., Whitney, C. W., Redline, S., Lee, E. T., Newman, A. B., Nieto, F. J., O’Connor, G. T., Boland, L. L., Schwartz, J. E., & Samet, J. M. (2001). Sleep-disordered breathing and cardiovascular disease: cross-sectional results of the Sleep Heart Health Study. American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine163(1), 19–25.
  6. Rundo, J. V. (2019). Obstructive sleep apnea basics. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine86(9 suppl 1), 2–9. 


The Author of this post does not assume any liability for any injury and/or damage to persons or property as a matter of products liability, malpractice, negligence, or otherwise, or from any use or operation of any methods, instructions or ideas contained. The foregoing parties will not be liable for any direct, special, indirect, incidental, consequential, or punitive damages as a result of the reader’s use of this information.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: