Top view of unhappy woman lying in bed, have headache sleep apnea

Do I Have Sleep Apnea

For many patients, treating sleep apnea can improve their overall quality of life. The condition can be obtrusive and affect you in both your sleeping and waking hours. Sleep apnea may be treatable through dental care.

Solutions for sleep apnea are available at Viva Smiles Family Dental in Georgetown and the surrounding area. Maintaining your dental health can also benefit your sleep. We may be able to help. Click here to make an appointment today.

Understanding Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where patients have something blocking (or obstructing) part or all of their upper airway in their sleep, forcing the diaphragm and chest muscles to work harder to pull air into the lungs. This condition may cause the patient’s breathing to become very shallow or even briefly stop altogether. Eventually, when the patient begins to breathe again, it will be accompanied by a loud gasp, snort, or body jerk.

Saying goodnight to my love. A young woman sending a text messag
“Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where patients have something blocking (or obstructing) part or all of their upper airway in their sleep, forcing the diaphragm and chest muscles to work harder to pull air into the lungs.”

Sleep Apnea and Other Sleep Disorders

There are several different types of sleep disorders. Each falls into six different categories: insomnias, hypersomnias, sleep-related breathing disorders, circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders, parasomnias, and sleep movement disorders. While insomnia is a type of sleep disorder where the patient is unable to fall or stay asleep, hypersomnia is a group of sleep disorders that cause a patient to feel excessively sleepy.

Parasomnias are a group of sleep disorders that consist of having undesirable experiences while falling asleep, sleeping, or waking up. Sleep apnea can be an underlying cause of parasomnias, since intermittently losing breath inevitably puts stress on the body. The same can be said for circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders (where the sleep times are out of alignment) and sleep movement disorders (where movement during or before sleep interferes with sleep). Sleep apnea itself is a sleep-related breathing disorder, where there is difficulty breathing during sleep.

“There are several different types of sleep disorders.”

Causes of Sleep Apnea

“Many patients are surprised to learn about the link between sleep apnea and dental health.”

Recognizing Sleep Apnea

Some groups may be more at risk of developing sleep apnea than others. Age, for instance, increases one’s chance of developing sleep apnea. The condition is also more common in younger men than in younger women. Unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and poor diet, may also contribute. Taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle may lessen an individual’s risk of developing sleep apnea.

“Children may also exhibit different symptoms of sleep apnea than adults.”

Treating Sleep Apnea

Luckily, there are many different ways to treat sleep apnea including oral appliances. Patients who are good candidates for oral appliances must have impressions of their teeth and return for a fitting during a later appointment. It may be necessary for patients to have another sleep test while wearing the device to ensure its efficacy. Further office visits may be required to make adjustments. These devices are unobtrusive and easy to travel with, as they do not require any electricity.

Other options include continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machines and surgery. These are more involved treatments that may benefit those with more severe cases of sleep apnea. Viva Smiles Family Dental can help patients determine which treatment is right for them.

“Viva Smiles Family Dental can help patients determine which treatment is right for them.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I still travel if I have sleep apnea?

A. Yes, you can still travel safely with sleep apnea. For best results, you should take your CPAP machine and other dental appliances with you—particularly on any trips that will take longer than one or two days.

Q. Are there any risks associated with untreated sleep apnea?

A. There is a direct correlation between sleep apnea and other health issues, like high blood pressure. Constantly waking up in the middle of the night puts stress on your body, causing the hormone systems to work overtime and increase blood pressure. The low oxygen and stress associated with sleep apnea are also related to heart disease.

Q. Is snoring always a sign of sleep apnea?

A. No. Snoring is very common. However, snoring that wakes you up in the middle of the night can be a sign of sleep apnea. Snoring associated with sleep apnea also tends to be deeper, louder, and more consistent. It may also be interrupted with gasps, choking, or pauses. Patients should see a doctor if they experience a combination of any of these symptoms.

Q. How common is sleep apnea?

A. The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that over 20 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Furthermore, they estimate that as much as 80 percent of moderate and severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea are undiagnosed.

Q. Can sleep apnea be cured?

A. Unfortunately, no. However, there are many different ways you can minimize and manage the symptoms of sleep apnea.

Dental Terminology

Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry is generally used to refer to any dental work that improves the appearance (though not necessarily the function) of a person’s teeth, gums and/or bite.


Tooth decay is when the enamel of the tooth begins to decay and cause erosion from plaque and tartar on the teeth.

Dental Caries

Dental caries are also known as cavities and result from a lack of proper oral hygiene leaving plaque that forms tiny holes in the teeth.

Dental Checkup

A dental checkup is an appointment that involves cleaning the teeth, identifying any signs of infection and removing said signs of infection at least once every six months in the office.

Dental Filling

A dental filling involves restoring the structure of the tooth by using metal, alloy, porcelain or plastic to fill the tooth.

Dental Prophylaxis

A dental prophylaxis is a professional and detailed cleaning that involves the removal of plaque, calculus and stains from the teeth.

Dental Sealants

Dental sealants contain a resinous material that we apply to the chewing surfaces of the posterior teeth to prevent dental caries.


A dentist, also known as a dental surgeon, is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity.


Gingivitis is the inflammation of gum tissue that results from plaque, other infections in the mouth and poor oral hygiene.

Preventive Dentistry

Preventive dentistry is the dentistry that focuses on maintaining oral health in order to prevent the spread of plaque, the formation of tartar and infections in the mouth.


Tartar forms when plaque builds up on the surface of the teeth and calcifies into a hard surface that is much more difficult to remove and will require professional treatment.

Tooth Enamel

Learn More Today

Treating sleep apnea can improve your overall dental health and quality of life. We at Viva Smiles Family Dental may be able to help.

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