Obstructive sleep apnea

Did OSA Strike Again?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) seems to have claimed another life. Thomas Kinkade, a famous American painter, was found dead in his home on April 6th. According to family and initial reports, it appears the he died of natural causes in his sleep. Given the body type and build of Kinkade along with the absense of any other sickness, it is very likely that OSA was the culprit.

Many people are not aware of the deadliness of this diesase and do not know the signs to look for. I encourage each of you to take a look at some typical diagnostic questions associated with sleep apnea and be on the look out for your family and friends that may be at risk!

  1. Do you snore?     Y/N
  2. Are you excessively sleepy during the day?     Y/N
  3. Have you been told you stop breathing when you sleep?     Y/N
  4. Do you have a history of hyptertension?     Y/N
  5. Is your neck size greater than 17 inches (if male) or 16 inches (if female)?     Y/N

If someone answers "Yes" to two or more of these questions, they may be a risk of having OSA and should consult with their physician, dentist or sleep center about getting a sleep study.

Sleep III in Reno

Sharon and I are in Reno attending the third of 3 meetings about dental sleep medicine. As I have said in earlier blogs, I have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This Is a fast growing area of medicine and dentistry and this disease - OSA, is a deadly disease and is responsible for early deaths from heart disease, diabetes, among others. Needless to say, I am very passionate about this disease, and screen all of our dental patients for this deadly disease.

Sharon and I met two of our best friends, Steve and Joy Cobb, in Reno for this dental meeting. We met Steve and Joy 33 years ago in the Air Force. Steve and I were both dentists in the Air Force, right out of dental school. We have stayed close for 33 years and try to get together every year.  Steve is a dentist in the Dallas area and is also very interested in dental sleep medicine. 

This sleep meeting covers three days and is the culmination of a 9 day mini-residency in dental sleep medicine.  At this meeting, we are hearing from physicians;  (ENT's, heart doctors, pediatricians, anesthesiologists, MD sleep specialists, eye doctors, and CPAP technicians) about how OSA is treated from their prospective.  As I said, this is the fastest growing area of medicine and we are all learning how to treat this deadly disease.

Sleep Study Results

The results are in! After my sleep study, Dr. Harrykissoon determined that many of my symptoms were reduced, but OSA was still affecting my overall sleep quality. I no longer have snoring during the night and my breathing interruptions are lower than before. The oral Somnodent appliance seems to have greatly reduced these problems, but not all of them.

My study showed that I was having around 40 leg interruptions an hour that did not awaken me, but took my body from REM sleep to non-REM sleep. Your body uses the REM sleep cycle to rejuvinate itself and store information for long term memory retention.  When the body is deprived of REM due to sleep disorders, your heart and respiration rates will speed up and can cause more fatal effects to the body.  It is important to get an official sleep study in a lab because this is one of many symptoms that would not be seen on an ordinary home sleep study.

Since my leg interruptions were taking me out of REM sleep, Dr. Harrykissoon suggested that I do a follow up and look at my options for alternate sleep appliances.  A CPAP is a great option to help increase that amount of air flow that your body receives during sleep. At my follow up, I plan on looking into the different CPAP options.

My Sleep Study Experience

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one of the fastest growing areas of medicine and symptoms can readily be seen by your dental provider if they are aware of the signs.  My team and I have taken a personal interest in this disease because it effects 20% of the population, 10% of whom do not know they have it.  (We also are taking great interest in this because I have this problem.)   Untreated, OSA can cause several health issues and a decreased life expectancy. I was self-diagnosed with moderate OSA a few years ago and made myself an oral appliance to sleep in.  My wife has enjoyed it thoroughly because it stopped my snoring and allowed her to get better sleep.  Although the quality of my sleep has improved, I was never formally diagnosed by a sleep physician.  You can only bediagnosed with OSA by a physician, so I called Dr. Rajesh Harrykissoon for a consult.  He agreed that I had symptoms of moderate OSA and suggested I get a sleep study done at the College Station Medical Sleep Center.  The Med has the only accredited sleep lab in all of the Brazos Valley.  I had a wonderful experience with the sleep lab team even if I did look silly.

Stay tuned as I will follow up when my formal diagnosis comes in.

Sleep Apnea kills State Congressman

State Rep. Robert C. Donatucci, 58, 


died asleep in his bed in South Philadelphia early Tuesday.  His death was related to sleep apnea, for which he was being treated, said his brother Ronald, the city register of wills.

He had been at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital about a week earlier for a sleep study, his brother said.  He found the mask uncomfortable and did not complete the test, but had resolved to lose a few pounds.  He had no history of heart problems. Fire and Rescue were called to the house when his wife discovered he was not breathing.

The precise cause of Rep. Donatucci's death was not immediately known. His brother said a doctor had told him the death was related to sleep apnea.  Sleep apnea is getting more and more attention every day, as we hear about people "dying in their sleep" .

Sleep apnea is treated very effectively with CPAP masks. 

While the CPAP mask is very effective in treating sleep apnea, many people like Donatucci find it "uncomfortable" and do not wear it.  This is were dentistry has some help.  There are many different oral appliances that can help treat this deadly disease.  I, myself, wear one religiously every night.  I do not want to wake up dead!! 

If you or someone you know snores or has any other sleepy symptoms, be sure and have them tested and treated for this deadly disease!!!

Marriage Island!!!

Sharon (my wife) and I just returned from San Antonio where I attended the annual conference for the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.   


This was the 19th annual conference for dentists that treat patients with sleep breathing disorders, usually Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  It was a great meeting and we always enjoy going to San Antonio, as it is one of the 5 most unique cities in the US.  Can you name the other 4??  (Answers at the end of the blog.)

The highlight of the trip turned out to be what happened on Saturday afternoon sitting out on the hotel's patio and enjoying the river's traffic.  We were staying Hotel Contessawww.thehotelcontessa.com and came to realize that we were right next to Marriage Island.  http://marriageisland.webs.com/  Marriage Island is a small (400 square foot) island that is ranked as 1 of the 10 most romantic destination wedding locations in the world!!  Marriage Island is right on the edge of the river, next to Hotel Contessa and hosts 360 weddings every year.

During the 2 hours that Sharon and I sat on the patio we witnessed 3 weddings.  They took less than 30 minutes each and we saw a wide range of wardrobes.  In each wedding the women were dressed to kill and they looked beautiful.  The men, on the other hand, had their own wardrobe ideas.  One wore his cowboy hat, with a string tie; another wore khaki shorts with a long sleeve shirt, and another wore a shirt and tie.  It was a wonderful afternoon and we were glad that we had front row seats to 3 weddings in a row. 

The other 4 unique cities in the US--

New York,   San Francisco,  New Orleans,   Las Vegas