What is sleep apnea?


Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing multiple times while you sleep. In a sleep apnea patient, the upper airway muscles relax too much, blocking the throat and preventing the person from getting enough air through their airway. Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that can have potentially fatal consequences if left unchecked. For example, the lack of oxygen can increase your risk of stroke or heart attack.

Some risk factors for sleep apnea are obesity, age (older people are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea), use of alcohol and drugs, and smoking. Increased neck circumference, narrow airways, tonsil or adenoid issues, and other medical conditions can also make you more likely to have sleep apnea. It is more common in men than women.

What to Watch Out For


Do you wake up after a full night of sleep and still feel tired? More than just a little drowsy and fatigued during the day, but wondering why? These are common symptoms of sleep apnea that you may be experiencing because you are not getting quality sleep during the night due to breathing problems and constant awakenings. Often, a sleep apnea patient won’t even realize these awakenings are happening. They are brief—just long enough for your brain to register there is no oxygen so you can restart regular breathing again.

In some cases, high blood pressure can be attributed to sleep apnea. Morning headaches and shortness of breath are also common.

Snoring is certainly the most widely known symptom. But did you know that not all snorers have sleep apnea? Also, not all sleep apnea patients snore. So snoring isn’t a sure sign by itself, but if it is accompanied by other sleep apnea symptoms, it’s best to get evaluated.


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Long-term effects


Sleep apnea can lead to other problems such as depression, irritability, lack of concentration, and daytime fatigue. The lack of quality sleep can affect a person dramatically. It negatively impacts many facets of their life, including work, school, and relationships, as well as their ability to participate in social activities and things they love doing. Sleep apnea also puts you at increased risks of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and heart attack.

Sleep apnea treatment can


Improve sleep


Help you
feel rested


Boost your
overall health

Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea


If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, contact us at Hite Family Dentistry or see your general practitioner. Sleep studies performed by a sleep specialist can diagnose whether you have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. Sleep studies are typically done at specialized sleep centers where they will observe your sleep patterns and determine whether further tests and evaluations are necessary.

Home sleep tests are sometimes used as well. With home sleep tests, your heart rate, blood oxygen level, and breathing patterns will be monitored by a wearable device. Your doctor will then check your results to identify if anything is outside normal, healthy limits.

Fixing Sleep Apnea


Treatment for sleep apnea will largely depend on the severity of the case. What works for one patient may not necessarily work for another as there are many underlying causes of sleep apnea. Lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation or weight loss, can be helpful to reduce sleep apnea symptoms. Very serious cases may require surgery to resolve. This involves the removal of tissue at the back of the throat by a specialist.

For a moderate or severe sleep apnea case, a doctor may prescribe a CPAP machine for sleeping. The CPAP machine ensures that the airway remains open sufficiently to breathe normally without the constant breathlessness that is synonymous with sleep apnea. Even though CPAP machines are very effective at reducing sleep apnea symptoms, they can be cumbersome. Oral appliances can be a helpful alternative for mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea, and our friendly team at Hite Family Dentistry can help you with those. Oral appliances are custom made to the individual, ensuring a perfect fit and optimal comfort. Their positioning in the mouth prevents the throat blockages that cause the lapses in breathing in sleep apnea patients.

A good night’s sleep is just a phone call away!

If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, contact our friendly team and we can refer you to a sleep specialist. If you already have a diagnosis of sleep apnea, our dentists can create a custom-made oral appliance just for you.

Insurance & Financing

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