Sleep Apnea Q & A

As one of the most common sleep disorders, sleep apnea occurs when your respiration is interrupted as you sleep. When your brain recognizes the lack of oxygen, it stimulates your respiratory response, often causing you to partially awaken in the process.

People who live with sleep apnea may experience more than 30 breathing pauses in just one hour. While most pauses last for just a few seconds, some can last longer than a minute.

The three main types of sleep apnea are:

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Most people with sleep apnea have obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when your tongue and the soft tissues of your throat repeatedly collapse and block your airway throughout the night.
  2. Central Sleep Apnea: This type of sleep apnea occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the nerves and muscles that control respiration.
  3. Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome: Also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, this form of the condition is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

While not everyone who has sleep apnea also has a snoring problem, many people do. Loud, chronic snoring is the primary symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. Other common signs of the disorder include:

  • Repeated, abrupt awakenings during the night
  • Episodes of paused breathing during sleep
  • Having a dry mouth or a sore throat upon waking
  • Chronic morning headaches
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness or low energy

Loud, disruptive snoring isn’t the only reason to seek medical help for sleep apnea — living with the disorder increases your risk of developing a variety of serious health problems, including high blood pressure, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and liver problems. Living with untreated sleep apnea also increases your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

Because sleep apnea can prevent you from getting a good night’s rest, you’re more likely to fall asleep unexpectedly during the day, putting you at greater risk of having an accident on the road or at work.

While our team has the expertise and training to spot the signs of sleep apnea during a routine oral exam, you need to undergo a sleep test to receive a diagnosis.

The team at Volterra Dental work with sleep specialists in the Orange County area to find out what type of sleep apnea you have as well as its degree of severity.

For mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, your dentist may recommend a custom oral appliance known as a snore guard, which helps position your jaw so that your airway remains open. In this way, it helps prevent breathing pauses and relieves chronic snoring.

Our providers will ensure your custom appliance continues to fit properly during your annual or semi-annual dental cleaning and exam.

To find out more about the importance of treating sleep apnea, call the Volterra Dental team at (562) 501-3188 today, or make an appointment using the convenient online appointment request feature.