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Sleep Apnea

Are you drowsy during the day with no explanation? Do you snore loudly or wake up breathless in the middle of the night? If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be one of more than 12 million Americans who are affected by sleep apnea.

View Epworth Sleepiness Scale

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops periodically during sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. Each time you stop breathing in your sleep, the resulting lack of oxygen alerts your brain, which temporarily wakes you up to restart proper breathing. Since the time spent awake is so brief, most people with sleep apnea don't remember it, and many believe they are getting a good night's sleep when, in fact, they are not. The constant wake-sleep, wake-sleep cycle prevents those with sleep apnea from achieving deep sleep, resulting in a constant drowsy feeling during the day.

What are the signs of sleep apnea?

The following symptoms can indicate the presence of sleep apnea. If you notice one or more of these, contact our practice.

  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Loud snoring at night
  • Waking up at night short of breath
  • Snorting or choking sounds during the night (indicating a restart of breathing)
  • Headaches upon waking in the morning
  • Falling asleep unintentionally during the day
  • Extreme drowsiness throughout the day

Are there different types of sleep apnea?

There are three categories of sleep apnea. The most common is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and occurs due to a physical blockage, usually the collapsing of the soft tissue in the back of the throat. Less common is central sleep apnea (CSA), in which breathing stops because the muscles involved don't receive the proper signal from the brain. And some people suffer from "mixed" or "complex" sleep apnea, which is a combination of obstructive and central.

What are risk factors for sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in males than females, and more common in older adults (40+) than younger adults and children. However, anyone — regardless of gender or age — can suffer from sleep apnea. Other risk factors include obesity, smoking, drinking, use of sedatives or tranquilizers, and family history. Central sleep apnea strikes most often in people with heart disorders, neuromuscular disorders, strokes, or brain tumors.

Is sleep apnea dangerous?

Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical problem and if left untreated it can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke. The ongoing state of fatigue caused by sleep apnea can lead to problems at work or school, as well as danger when driving or operating heavy machinery. Sleep apnea can also cause complications with medication or surgery; sedation by anesthesia can be risky, as can lying flat in bed after an operation. If you know or suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, let your family doctor know before taking prescribed medication or having surgery.

How is sleep apnea treated?

Treatments for sleep apnea depend on the severity of each individual case, and the type of apnea. Basic treatment can be behavioral — for instance, patients are instructed to lose weight, stop smoking, or sleep on their sides instead of on their backs. Beyond that, oral devices can be used to position the mouth in such a way that prevents throat blockage. In more severe cases, surgery may be the best option.

What should I do if I suspect that someone in my family suffers from sleep apnea?

Contact our practice, and we can refer you to a sleep apnea specialist. The specialist may recommend a sleep study to diagnose the precise extent of the problem, and can prescribe appropriate treatment. Depending on your situation, treatment may involve an oral device that we can custom-create for you.

patient testimonials

"I had multiple bad experiences as a child with the dentist. As a result, I have feared going to the dentist office for years. Dr. Kevin and Sandy are so gentle and caring that I still bring my children to them and we live almost two hours away!" ~ Tasha W.

patient testimonials

"Since age 7, I have been extremely fearful of going to the dentist. It was this age that I was told by a previous dentist that I would eventually have to have a root canal and my front tooth capped due to a bicycling accident. This gave me a scary image and sounded painful. When Dr. Sandy told me a root canal was needed, although it was 18 years later, it still sounded scary and painful. Then I was told about sedation. The entire day of the appointment I don’t recall much. When I woke up, the "scary" part was already over and I felt refreshed with zero pain or discomfort. I was completely satisfied with my smile and the results! As for the staff, each person I was in contact with was excellent in accommodating each need that I had and made me feel like I was a part of their family. I would 100% recommend Hayes Family Dentistry and sedation to anyone. The entire experience was, in one word, amazing!" ~ Kellie A.

patient testimonials

"No pain was felt. New found respect for dentistry. Recovery was a lot easier. Would not see any other dentist. Would recommend Hayes Family Dentistry to anyone and everyone. Very, very pleased with my experience and even brought my wife here. All I can say is WOW!" ~ Jason R.

patient testimonials

"I have been extremely afraid to go to the dentist. I had a bad experience about three years ago where my jaw got locked open during a procedure. For about an hour they had to do warm moist compresses and massage my temporal joint to get my jaw unlocked. I was extremely sore for about three and a half weeks. This created a fear of going back to the dentist. My experience with sedation: when I came in that morning I was not anxious about the appointment because I took a pill that morning that helped calm me. I was greeted, they got me comfortable, and I watched a pleasant video about ocean life. I don’t remember anything about that appointment. My next memory was of waking up refreshed and ready to go the next day. I didn’t have any soreness and didn’t have to worry about what I ate because of my joints being sore. It was the most pleasant experience I have ever had at a dental office. I will definitely have sedation again for any kind of future treatment." ~ Sara H.

patient testimonials

"Are you afraid to smile because you’re ashamed of your smile? Hayes Family Dentistry can help. Are you saying, “But I’m more afraid of going to a dentist than people seeing my smile?” Hayes Family Dentistry can really help; they helped me. Being afraid of the dentist is nothing to be ashamed of—it’s called dental phobia and you’re not alone. A lot of people suffer from it. But now thanks to sedation dentistry, you don’t have to suffer anymore." ~ Tony "Gator" Harrison
(Formerly with Country Giant)

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Hayes Family Dentistry, PC