Sleep Apnea and Your Oral Health

Have you been waking up feeling lethargic and exhausted, even after 8 hours of sleep? Sleep apnea could be the reason! What is sleep apnea? What causes it? And who can help me? These are some of the very first questions that come to mind when experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea. After asking said questions, it’s important to know exactly what these answers are before moving on to the next possible causes of your sleep issues.

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Let’s go over these questions and if you need to follow up with more concerns… you know where to find us!

What is sleep apnea?
The straight forward definition for sleep apnea is: A chronic condition that causes people to stop breathing at different times throughout their sleep cycles. Now, there are 2 different kinds of sleep apneas: Obstructive and central. If you have any of the below symptoms it could mean you have one of these:


Potential Symptoms

  • Long pauses in your breathing while asleep.
  • Gasping for air while sleeping.
  • Restless sleep.
  • Dry mouth or sore throat when waking up.
  • Being exhausted every morning, even after 8 hours of sleep.

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  • Restore Quality of Life / Energy
  • Prevent Future Disease & Cancer
  • Extend Life Expectancy

What causes sleep apnea?

As discussed above, there are 2 forms of it- Obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Let’s start with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is the most common form and is when your upper airway gets blocked when you’re asleep, making it hard on your diaphragm to draw in air. You can reduce your risk of having this form of sleep apnea by losing weight, avoiding drinking alcohol 4-6 hours before bed, and sleeping on your side.

Central sleep apnea (CSA) is when your brain isn’t sending your muscles the right signals to breathe correctly. This is sometimes caused by medications that you may be taking, or it could be related to an illness from which your lower brain stem is affected.

Who can help?
Now we come to the most important question of all, who can help? Dentists are valuable partners when it comes to the study and treatment of sleep apnea- they know the ins and outs of the mouth. Not to mention they are the experts on your oral health and breathing is a huge part of that! These are a few things that dentists can prescribe and help you with once you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea by your doctor:

  • An oral appliance is a “mouth-guard” type of appliance and the most widely preferred! It is quiet, portable, and easy to wear.
  • CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. This is very effective for OSA because it provides forced air to prevent any obstruction from happening. However, you do have to wear a mask when you sleep.

There is a surgery that can help treat sleep apnea as well. This surgery is done by implanting a medical device that electrically stimulates the hypoglossal nerve to the tongue- basically a pacemaker for your tongue. This does not cause pain and all it really does is cause your tongue to be pushed forward, away from the back of your airway. This is only a treatment for OSA, not CSA, and is usually only performed when the other 2 treatments are not tolerated.

Contact us and we can set up an initial exam to give you the proper information you need to proceed with whichever treatment option works best for you! Give a call (949) 612-2356 or reach us via our email!

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