Airway & Sleep

What's The Big Deal Anyways?

Poor sleep and compromised airway health can contribute to a range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and cognitive impairment.
For those reasons and more that are described on this page, we strongly suggest sleep screening for our patients.
The goal of our sleep screening process here at Root Cause is to catch Sleep Disordered Breathing early so it does not progress to the point of creating symptoms and diseases that will have a negative impact on overall health and wellbeing

At Root Cause, we always seek to find and treat the causes of problems. In most cases, a compromised airway is at the root of a sleep problem. If that is the case for you, we have a variety of ways to help.

A Brief Introduction to Sleep

Sleep can be divided into two main types: non-REM and REM sleep. During non-REM sleep, your body relaxes and restores itself in three stages, with the third being the deepest stage. A healthy sleep cycle involves cycling through these stages multiple times throughout the night, and each stage serves a different purpose in maintaining physical and mental health.
Fragmented sleep and oxygen deprivation during sleep can have negative effects on your physical and mental health, including daytime sleepiness, fatigue, mood changes, cognitive impai-rment, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and other health conditions.

Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB)

The term sleep-disordered breathing (or SDB) refers to a spectrum of breathing problems that occur during sleep. In many cases SBD starts early in life with the seemingly harmless habit of breathing through the mouth. However, if the mouth breathing habit is not corrected, it can progress into snoring, UARS (upper airway resistance syndrome) and OSA (obstructives sleep apnea).


Snoring is more than an annoyance. It’s actually a physiological “condition” where the airway is partially blocked during sleep, causing vibrations in the throat that produce a sound. While snoring may not necessarily cause health problems, it can be a sign of Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).


UARS occurs when the upper airway is partially obstructed during sleep, leading to breathing difficulties and arousals from sleep. People with UARS often experience symptoms such as excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and mood disturbances. It is crucial for patients to address UARS promptly to prevent its progression into OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) in the future.


OSA is a condition where the upper airway is completely obstructed during sleep, causing the person to stop breathing repeatedly throughout the night.

The Spectrum of Sleep-realted Breathing Disorders

What to Look For

The signs and symptoms of Sleep Disordered Breathing can vary between children and adults.


If you notice any of these signs or symptoms in your child, we strongly recommend an Airway & Sleep Screening:

  • Daytime symptoms, such as excessive sleepiness, difficulty waking up in the morning, irritability, behavioral problems, poor concentration, or hyperactivity.
  • Loud snoring, especially if it’s regular and occurs every night.
  • Pauses in breathing or snorts, gasps, or choking sounds during sleep.
  • Mouth breathing, even during the day.
  • Restless sleep, such as tossing and turning, sweating, or frequent awakenings.
  • Sleeping in unusual positions, such as with the head tilted back or the neck extended.
  • Bedwetting, especially in older children.
  • Slow growth or failure to thrive due to disrupted sleep and reduced oxygen intake.
  • Recurrent infections or inflammation of the tonsils or adenoids.
  • Breathing difficulties or episodes of choking during the day.
  • ADHD that has been diagnosed without SDB ruled out.
  • Night time sweating
  • Tethered oral tissues (TOTs) on the tongue, lips, or cheeks.
  • Bruxism (clenching and grinding of teeth)


If you notice any of these signs or symptoms in yourself or an adult family member, we strongly recommend an Airway & Sleep Screening:

  • Loud and chronic snoring
  • Gasping or choking during sleep: People with sleep-disordered breathing may suddenly gasp or choke during sleep as their airway becomes blocked.
  • Pauses in breathing: Sleep-disordered breathing can cause a person to stop breathing for short periods of time during sleep.
  • Daytime sleepiness: Poor sleep quality and frequent awakenings can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • Morning headaches: Sleep-disordered breathing can cause headaches in the morning due to lack of oxygen during the night.
  • Difficulty concentrating: Inadequate sleep can also result in memory issues and challenges with decision-making.
  • Mood changes: Sleep-disordered breathing can lead to irritability, depression, and anxiety.High blood pressure: Sleep-disordered breathing can cause high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Acid reflux: Sleep-disordered breathing can worsen gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms.
  • Nighttime sweating: People with sleep-disordered breathing may experience excessive sweating during the night, particularly if they wake up gasping or choking.
  • Urination during the night
  • Tethered oral tissues (TOTs) on the tongue, lips, or cheeks.
  • Bruxism (clenching and grinding of teeth)

Treatment Options For Sleep
Disordered Breathing


For patients between the ages of 3 and 12 when the mandible and maxilla are still growing, Orthotropics® can redirect and guide growth of the upper and lower jaws which can not only improve airway health and development but also reverse SBD.

Orthotropics® aims to achieve correct oral posture, which involves having the lips together at rest, the teeth lightly touching, and the tongue resting on the palate, and can lead to comfortable nasal breathing, optimal development of the jaws, a healthier airway, and more balanced facial features.
More information about this treatment can be found in the Orthotropics® section.


In our comprehensive approach, we establish collaborations with various providers, including orthodontists, periodontists, oral surgeons, ENT specialists, and myofunctional therapists. By combining their expertise, we offer epigenetic orthodontics for arch expansion, focusing beyond just the teeth, and also provide nasal procedures to promote improved nasal breathing.


Screening for sleep disordered breathing is a great investment in overall health and well being. Untreated SDB can lead to serious health problems that can include heart disease, stroke, diabetes and dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease. Early detection and treatment can help prevent these conditions from developing. We screen for sleep problems using personal assessment forms and sleep quality monitoring devices. The forms gather information about sleep habits and patterns in order to assess a patient’s risk potential. The monitoring devices, such as the SQS (Sleep Quality Screener) and WatchPAT (Watch-PATient) track sleep-related physiological conditions to assess risk and collaborate with our sleep physicians diagnose sleep disorders.


Dr. Stasha Gominak is a neurologist who has conducted extensive research on the connection between sleep and overall health. As a Neurologist, she found that insufficient restorative sleep was at the heart of many health disorders. Her research has focused on the effects that Vitamin D play in the role of sleep, along with the gut microbiome in restoring optimal health. After experiencing sleep issues herself, she became interested in exploring the underlying causes of sleep disturbances. Her research has focused on identifying the root causes of sleep issues and developing effective treatments. Her website is a great place to learn more about how sleep works and why it is so important to overall health and wellbeing.