David Shirazi, D.D.S. M.S L.Ac., a sleep-disordered breathing expert

During NBC’S “Biggest Loser”, each contestant was awarded an overnight sleep study, and doctors found that a whopping 16 of the 22 contestants were diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Lack of sleep (like obesity) seems to be a national epidemic: the National Institutes of Health reports that 50 to 70 million Americans are affected by chronic sleep disorders and intermittent sleep problems that can significantly diminish health, alertness and safety. Drowsy driving claims more than 1,500 lives a year and causes more than 100,000 motor vehicle crashes annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

OSA is a debilitating sleep condition characterized by pauses in breathing during deep sleep, which causes daytime fatigue, congestion and heart conditions like angina and heart attacks.

“Not getting sufficient rest or having fragmented sleep due to OSA can lead to immediate physical dangers, such as traffic accidents and it can have metabolic consequences and can cause someone to have difficulty in even losing weight,” says David Shirazi, D.D.S. M.S L.Ac., a sleep-disordered breathing expert. “OSA creates a vicious cycle of chronic fatigue, weight gain and more sleep disorders, any of which can take years off the average person’s life span. Although being overweight and obese has been related as having a possible causal relationship to OSA, the reverse can actually be the case.”

The good news is you can start to break the cycle of sleep disordered breathing and potential illness and difficulty with weight loss, with simple, FDA-approved oral appliance therapy that opens the airway using essentially a retainer, according to Dr. Shirazi, who is also an accredited acupuncturist and dentist and holds expertise in Craniomandibular orthopedics, headaches and migraines. “A simple examination in conjunction with a sleep study resulting in the need and eventual placement of the appliance can alleviate most of these symptoms and immediately help millions of people across the country,” says Shirazi.

While the company that treated the contestants used Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) masks to treat the “Biggest Loser” contestants, Dr. Shirazi has found oral appliances to be effective in treating many sleep disorders because they are much easier to use by the sufferer of OSA and are used for a far greater time span and more frequently than CPAP therapy.

The advantage of the oral device over the CPAP mask is that they open the airway by bringing the lower jaw downward and/or forward and they keep the tongue from falling back toward the throat during sleep, or open the nasal passages to help eliminate mouth snoring.  All of which is in a small package of an oral appliance the size of a retainer, that can be carried in someone’s pocket.  These appliances can also treat clenching of the teeth at night, called bruxism, and protect the sufferer of OSA from any damage to the jaws and teeth, and people can sleep in nearly any position while wearing them; people who use the CPAP masks mostly need to sleep on their backs.  Dr. Shirazi and the team at the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre fabricate custom appliances to suit each client’s specific needs.

If you display any of these symptoms, you may need to be tested to find out if you have sleep apnea:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness or insomnia
  • Loud snoring
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid weight gain or being overweight/obese
  • Episodes of waking up gasping or choking
  • Clenched jaw
  • Morning headaches
  • Depression or change in personality
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Excessive perspiration during sleep
  • Heartburn
  • Reduced libido
  • Chest retraction during sleep in young children (chest pulls in)

For more information on symptoms and treatments of sleep apnea, visit Doctor Shirazi in the Parkinson’s Resource Organization Wellness Village at

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