Littleton, CO dentist Dr. Guy Grabiak and team celebrate case study award for long-term healthy results with their patient.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea – Its Causes, Symptoms and Health Risks

Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans. This means that it’s as common as adult diabetes. But unlike diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Millions of Americans spend their nights snoring and their days fatigued, and have no idea that they are suffering from a serious health problem. This disorder is tough to diagnose because the symptoms often aren’t recognized. Its symptoms resemble those of other diseases and health problems. Furthermore, it can’t be diagnosed during a doctor’s visit. In order to get a perfect diagnosis, the sufferer must spend the night in a lab. William C. Dement, the father of sleep medicine, is quoted as saying “Sleep disordered breathing in its various manifestations is arguably the number one health problem in the U.S., and probably in the world.”

Causes and Types of Sleep Apnea

The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is caused by a collapse of tissue at the back of the throat that helps with breathing. It blocks the airway and keeps the sleeper from breathing properly. The sleeper may stop breathing for up to ten seconds, after which they’ll suck in a sharp breath. This keeps the brain from getting the oxygen it needs. Obesity, an elongated soft palate or enlarged tonsils can also cause OSA. A less common type is central sleep apnea. This is when the brain fails to tell the body to breath during sleep. Unlike OSA, snoring is not a factor in this type. In addition to OSA and CSA, there is also a mixed version, which is a combination of the two. By far, the most common of the three is OSA. Evidence suggests that all forms of sleep apnea might be hereditary. Obese men over 40 are at the highest risk for developing the disease, but anyone can suffer from the disorder, even children.

Symptoms – When You Should Talk to Your Doctor About Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea symptoms can be hard to detect because they may appear minor or may mimic other diseases. It’s usually impossible for the sufferer themselves to notice the symptoms because they’re sleeping. Usually, these symptoms are noticed by family members. Symptoms include:
  • Loud snoring or choking noises.
  • Stopping breathing or irregular breathing during sleep.
  • Fatigue or tired feeling during the daytime (hypersomnia).
  • Migraine headaches, especially in the morning.
  • Waking up with a sore or dry throat.
  • Insomnia, or waking up and not being able to go back.

The Consequences of Not Getting a Restful Sleep

People who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea find that no matter how many hours of sleep they get, they never feel rested. This feeling of fatigue often comes with muscle pain and headaches. Without the proper oxygen it needs, your body is unable to carry out its important functions while you are sleeping. Lack of proper sleeping also affects your immune system, making you more susceptible to viruses. Being overly sleepy can also put you at risk for car accidents and accidents at work. This condition interferes with REM sleep. This is the deep state that helps to regulate your brain’s functioning. Lack of REM leads to anxiety and lack of concentration. This inability to focus and think clearly acts like a symptom of ADD or ADHD. It also leads to mood swings, emotional problems and lowered job performance. Your body also has important hormonal functions that it carries out while you’re asleep. This disease causes many sufferers to put on weight and have trouble taking it off. When your hormones cannot be secreted properly, it slows down your metabolism. And finally, this disease can be fatal. Over the long term, lack of good rest increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, fibromyalgia and hypertension.

Don’t you want to get that night’s rest you’re dreaming of?

If you show any of the above symptoms and feel tired and fatigued during the daytime, talk to Dr. Grabiak. Denver Dentistry partners with a certified sleep medicine Doctor for a proper diagnosis. Our treatment options can help get you the rest you need, and even save your life. You can also talk to your doctor about staying overnight in a lab.

The foundation of providing safe and personalized holistic care begins by getting to know you and your goals for your oral health and overall health, both short term and long term. Dr. Grabiak will then learn about your family’s dental and medical history, along with your dental and medical history. Afterwards, we begin your exam by taking a sample of your saliva (Sillha), checking for seven different biomarkers. That same day, we will send you home with a report showing how you scored in those different biomarker categories.

The head and neck examination is often overlooked by busy clinicians but it is as crucial as an element of the oral cancer examination. Dr. Grabiak begins his exam outside of the mouth by starting with a soft tissue check of the neck and the jaw. A thorough head and neck examination is essential for detecting early skin cancers, any overdeveloped jaw muscles that may be contributing towards bruxism, and enlarged lymph nodes that may indicate an active virus or infection.

After the extraoral exam, Dr. Grabiak begins his extensive intraoral exam. During Dr. Grabiak’s exam he is evaluating the teeth, uvula, mucosal tissues, tongue, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, and the oropharynx. Part of this exam includes taking high-definition photos of the mouth, all at different angles so you can see exactly what he is seeing. Our hygienist will then come in and complete a comprehensive periodontal assessment. In some cases, Dr. Grabiak and your hygienist may recommend additional testing to get to the root cause of the evidence of symptoms they are seeing in your mouth. This entire process takes roughly an hour. In some cases, depending on what Dr. Grabiak and your hygienist had found during their exam we will invite you back for a follow-up appointment called review of findings.

In preparation for the review of findings, Dr. Grabiak and your hygienist will take the time to evaluate all of the data that was collected from your examination and testing to determine your specific needs. At your review of findings appointment Dr. Grabiak will sit down with you one on one to review the data that was collected from your appointment, along with any recommendations. This allows you the time to ask Dr. Grabiak any questions that you may have about your treatment recommendations and expectations from treatment.

Jeromy Mulkey

Jeromy Mulkey

Operations Manager

Jeromy received his Bachelors of Science in Finance from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He moved to Colorado in 2015 from Hannibal, New York (a small town outside of Syracuse) and that is when his career in the dental field began. Jeromy started in corporate dental as a patient coordinator and quickly progressed to office manager and then running multiple specialty practices over the next 5 years. Holistic dentistry was an exciting new challenge and Jeromy couldn't be happier with his family at Denver Dentistry. Holistic dentistry was a breath of fresh air and gave a new excitement and passion for learning of all the new sciences and technologies the Denver Dentistry team has integrated into their practice. Jeromy currently lives in Sheridan and enjoys living close to the mountains. In his free time he enjoys spending time with family, snowboarding, playing soccer and basketball, camping, and hiking. Jeromy is passionate about delivering excellent customer service and assisting the team in bringing more smiles to satisfied patients.
Chelsea White

Jazmin Contreras

Dental Hygiene Assistant

In 2020 Jazmin graduated from Colorado Mesa University at the top of her class with a degree in Kinesiology. From a young age Jazmin knew she had a passion and interest in the medical field which led her to gain various experiences in the medical field. However, when she first came to Denver Dentistry, she fell in love with dentistry and knew this was her passion. Dr. Grabiak and his team offered a unique holistic approach to the field; something Jazmin has always been highly interested in. She quickly realized this is where she was meant to be and Denver Dentistry instantly felt like home. In her free time she and her fiance enjoy traveling and participating in outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and kayaking.
Chelsea White

Chelsea White


Chelsea is a born and raised Florida girl and has now been a Colorado resident for 5 years. She has loved dentistry for a long time, and couldn’t see herself in any other profession. Knowing her career path, she went to school at Central Florida Institute to become a dental assistant with an extended program. Graduated in 2012 as a Dental Assistant and as an EDDA, she looks forward to esthetics and happiness with patients. As someone who has been in the field for almost 10 years, she strives to work as a team to meet all expectations with the patient. In her free time she loves to hike, and explore the beautiful places Colorado has to offer.

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