How a Dentist Can Help with Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea has the potential to be a very serious sleep disorder where your breathing starts and stops frequently during the night. Have you been told you snore loudly? Do you feel tired every morning after a full night’s sleep? If the answer to these questions are “YES”, you may have sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common and is when throat muscles relax and block your airway during sleep. When this occurs your brain automatically wakes you from your sleep to reopen your airway.  You might snort loudly, feel like you are gasping for air or have the sensation that something is lodged in your throat. Some don’t even notice they are waking up and simply still feel exhausted in the morning without realizing that this pattern repeated itself anywhere from 5 (mild sleep apnea) to 30 times or more (severe sleep apnea) each hour while they slept. This prevents you from reaching the deep phases of restful sleep.

Who is at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Anyone can have sleep apnea, however, certain risk factors can increase the chances for sleep apnea:

  • Obesity
  • Family History of Sleep Apnea
  • Smokers
  • Chronic allergies
  • Post Menopausal women
  • Seniors (occurs more frequently in older adults)

What are the complications?

Some complications if you have untreated sleep apnea are:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart problems or high blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • High cholesterol
  • Teeth grinding
  • Daytime fatigue
  • A sleep deprived spouse or partner

You may feel more irritable, therefore putting a strain on relationships.

How Can We Help?

How can a dentis help with sleep apnea? I get this question asked quite frequently.  If you have been diagnosed with OSA and have not been able to adapt to using a CPAP machine then a sleep apnea oral appliance could be the solution for you.


This device is only worn during sleep and fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. It supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway. Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and OSA.

Other Bonuses to Using an Oral Appliance

  • Easy to care for
  • Most patients find it easy to adjust to and use the treatment consistently
  • Quiet
  • Easily portable, great for travel!

Getting the right treatment for your obstructive sleep apnea will help you feel like a new person. Imagine having more energy and being able to have better focus throughout the day. Your quality of life and health improves when you have proper consistent sleep.

A dentist can see if you have the risk factors for sleep apnea and then refer you to your doctor to get a proper diagnosis. It is important for your doctor and dentist to work together in your treatment due to the major health complications that sleep apnea can cause.

If you have had a sleep study and have been diagnosed with sleep apnea by your doctor, I invite you to contact us for a consultation to determine if an oral appliance to treat your obstructive sleep apnea is the right treatment for you.


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