Benton & Nelson DDS

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Sleep Apnea

How can we help you?

You can find answers to some common questions below. Feel free to call us at (336) 760-1277 if you have a question that isn't listed here!

Sleep Apnea

After a person is diagnosed with sleep apnea, there are multiple ways to approach treatment depending on the cause. 

Treatment options can include:

  • Healthy lifestyle changes including diet and exercise
  • Dental sleep apnea appliance
  • CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) breathing device

If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, you could benefit from a dental sleep apnea device, sometimes referred to as a snore guard.  If your physician determines that you are a candidate, Dr. Nelson can fabricate the appliance for you to wear at night.  Many patients prefer dental sleep apnea devices over CPAP breathing devices as they are smaller, more discrete, and silent.  There are two main types of dental sleep apnea devices: mandibular repositioning devices and tongue retaining devices. 

Mandibular repositioning sleep apnea device 

A mandibular repositioning device is a type of dental appliance worn during sleep that positions the lower jaw forward to help keep the airway open.  Dr. Nelson prefers mandibular repositioning devices for treating obstructive sleep apnea. 

Sleep apnea signs and symptoms that you may experience

  • Feeling tired, even after a full night’s sleep
  • Difficulty staying awake during the day
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth upon waking
  • Morning headaches
  • Tooth grinding

Sleep apnea signs and symptoms that your bed partner may notice while you sleep

  • Snoring
  • Pausing in breathing
  • Gasping for breath

Signs and symptoms your dentist may observe

Did you know that your dentist may recognize signs of sleep apnea during your routine dental exam?  Because sleep apnea is often associated with tooth grinding and enlarged oral soft tissue structures, your dentist may discuss whether you are experiencing other signs and symptoms of sleep apnea and refer you to your physician.  

  • Tooth wear (shortening of teeth)
  • Tooth fractures or cracks
  • Enlarged tonsils, soft palate, tongue, or uvula
  • Smaller lower jaw

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a form of sleep apnea caused by the soft tissues of the throat (soft palate, uvula, tonsils, tongue, etc) relaxing and narrowing the airway during sleep.  Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea and can be managed, with the recommendation of your physician, with a dental sleep apnea appliance.

Sleep apnea is a disorder where breathing pauses periodically during sleep.  This cessation in breathing causes a drop in your body’s oxygen level.  When your brain detects that your oxygen levels are decreasing, it signals your body to wake-up to resume regular breathing.  Though these wake-ups are brief and usually not remembered, they interrupt the sleep cycle and decrease sleep quality, leading to daytime drowsiness. 

OSA is often, but not always, found in patients with increased body mass index (BMI), enlarged tonsils, small chin, nasal congestion, and patients with medical histories that include high blood pressure, heart failure, and type 2 diabetes. 

Sleep apnea is associated with reduction in sleep quality and leads to daytime drowsiness, fatigue, and irritability.  More importantly, sleep apnea can significantly impact your health and is associated with:

  • Heart problems (such as heart attack and stroke)
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Liver problems
  • Types 2 diabetes
  • Complications during general anesthesia
Call us at (336) 760-1277 to schedule your next appointment.
If you have difficulty using our website, please email us or call us at (336) 760-1277
View the ADA Accessibility Statement