smile and photo by Dr. Jensen

Sleep apnea is an insidious condition in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep, and it is more common than you may think.  Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to a few minutes and often occur 5–30 times or more an hour.  Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.

Sleep apnea is usually a chronic condition that disrupts your sleep.  You often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep when your breathing pauses or becomes shallow.  This results in poor sleep quality that makes you tired during the day.  Sleep apnea is one of the leading causes of excessive daytime sleepiness and is very tough on the body’s systems.


Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed.  Doctors usually can’t detect the condition during routine office visits, and there are no blood tests for the condition.  Most people who have sleep apnea don’t know they have it because it only occurs during sleep.  A family member or bed partner may be the first to notice the signs of sleep apnea.

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea.  This means that the airway has collapsed or is blocked during sleep.  The blockage may cause shallow breathing or breathing pauses, so when you try to breathe, any air that squeezes past the blockage can cause loud snoring.

Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in people who are overweight, but it can affect anyone.  For example, small children may have enlarged tonsil tissues in their throats, which can lead to obstructive sleep apnea.


Untreated sleep apnea can:

  • Severely reduce your quality of life
  • Significantly increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes
  • Increase the risk of, or worsen, heart failure
  • Contribute to memory loss
  • Make arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, more likely
  • Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents

Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that requires long-term management.  Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, surgery, and breathing devices can successfully treat sleep apnea in many people.

Dr. Doug Jensen has received extensive training in the use of mandibular advancement devices for sleep apnea treatment.  As an orthodontist, he is in a unique position to deal with any rare dental side effects due to wearing the devices.  After screening for this condition at Jensen Orthodontic Arts, he will work with your physician to form the formal diagnosis of sleep apnea.  He will then fabricate the appropriate appliance to improve upper airway ventilation, thus dramatically improving the quality of your sleep and life overall.  To learn more about our treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea in McKinney, Texas, please contact us today.