Sleep Apnea, Austin TX

Sleep Apnea image

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.

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

·       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?
There are three categories. 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?
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. It is also more common in males.

Is it 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 it 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, Swish Dental dentist can create 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.

Dental Appliances for sleep apnea
Before any treatment options can be determined, a sleep study must first be performed to determine the severity of one’s symptoms as it can have a direct influence on the recommended therapy.

The most common form of therapy is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, which blow a steady stream of pressurized air through a mask into the respiratory system. For moderate to severe sleep apnea patients, most sleep professionals will recommend CPAP therapy as a first-line treatment option.

For mild to moderate sleep apnea, a dental device is often the recommended therapy. Dental devices may also be recommended to be worn in conjunction a CPAP device to help lower high pressure needs.

Getting dental devices
Swish Dental Dentist’s can make a custom fitted oral device to suit your particular needs. Over-the-counter options are available, but not recommended. Over-the-counter devices may be appealing because of their reduced prices, but can actually complicate sleep apnea. Many patients who order oral devices without consulting with a dentist, find that their snoring symptoms went away, but were unaware that it was not preventing apnea events leading to complications down the road as only the snoring symptom was prevented but the disorder itself was not.

Pros of Dental devices
·       Many patients find dental devices to be more comfortable and tolerable to wear as opposed to CPAP masks.

·       Patients on CPAP often complain of dry, itchy noses from the air pressure drying out their sinuses. Oral devices do not have this problem.

·       There is less equipment to become entangled with during sleep, or knock off during slumber, for patients who are active movers during sleep.

·       There is a lot less equipment involved, and therefore easier to travel with.

Cons of Dental devices
·       Jaw pain, soreness, or tension

·       Sore teeth and/or gums

·       Excessive salivation or even dry mouth

·       Possible damage or permanent change to jaw position/bite

·       Loosening of dental restorations (crowns, bridges, etc)

Who qualifies for dental appliances?
·       Patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea (not recommended for moderate to severe cases)

·       Patients with primary snoring (in absense of sleep apnea)

·       Patients who have tried and failed at CPAP therapy may qualify

·       Patients who were unsuccessful with or refused surgeries such as tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, cranofacial operations, or tracheostomy.

·       In combination with CPAP device to help lower patient’s apnea/hypopnea index for more tolerable air pressure settings.


If you’re concerned you have sleep apnea you should contact your local sleep clinic to schedule a consultation with a sleep specialist or talk with your primary care physician about your sleep troubles. Or call one of Swish Dental’s offices and we’ll be more than happy to help you setup an appointment.


Austin, 78758, 78704, 78748, 78702

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