Sleep Apnea

Sleep Like Your Life Depends On It

At Miami Valley Smiles, we want all of our patients to be able to live happy, healthy lives so they can live up to their full potential and complete their life’s work. It can be hard to be your best self when you’re not getting any sleep night after night, and when your breathing is preventing enough oxygen from getting to your brain. If you or your partner suffers from chronic snoring, you might have sleep apnea. Thankfully, your Mason dentist has a simple solution without the need for a CPAP machine!


What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common and dangerous sleep disorder that affects millions of Americans, while many cases remain undiagnosed. There are three types of sleep apnea: central sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, and mixed sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send the proper signals to the body during sleep to tell it to breathe.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissues in the back of the throat relax and collapse during sleep, blocking the airway and preventing proper breathing. Mixed sleep apnea is a combo of the two. Central and mixed sleep apnea require treatment from a medical professional, sleep specialist or neurologist, but your Miami Valley dentist can help treat obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Infographic

Click the image above to expand

What causes obstructive sleep apnea?

There are many factors that can cause and contribute to the development of obstructive sleep apnea. It’s important to note that the majority of obstructive sleep apnea sufferers are men over the age of 40.

Women and children can also suffer from sleep apnea, but it is much less common. Physical factors including obesity or having a large neck or narrow airway can increase your risk, as well as drinking alcohol, using sedatives, or eating spicy foods.

Risk Factors

There are certain demographics that are at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea and certain lifestyle habits that contribute to the problem.

  • Males over age 40
  • Overweight or large neck
  • Use of alcohol or sedatives
  • Smoking or tobacco
  • Nasal congestion
  • Narrow airway
  • Family history
  • Spicy foods

What are the consequences?

Sleep apnea can have devastating, even deadly consequences if left untreated. Sleep apnea causes low blood oxygen levels from a lack of oxygen night after night, which contributes to the development of serious systemic diseases and a downward spiral of the immune system.

Over time without treatment, sleep apnea can cause serious health problems including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Sleep apnea sufferers are also more likely to fall asleep randomly throughout the day and are at a high risk of auto accidents caused by falling asleep at the wheel.

What are the symptoms?

The most common sign of sleep apnea is chronic snoring. Sleep apnea sufferers will often wake themselves up choking or gasping for air multiple times throughout the night. Constant sleep disturbances lead to chronic fatigue and daytime sleepiness, and the feeling of waking up exhausted even after what should have been a full night’s rest. Many sleep apnea sufferers will wake up with a dry mouth or a headache and will have to urinate more frequently throughout the night. Sleep apnea can also cause insomnia, nightmares, anxiety, and depression.

Signs & Symptoms

Some of the most common signs, symptoms, and characteristics of sleep apnea include:

  • Chronic snoring
  • Choking or gasping for air
  • Sleeping and breathing disruptions
  • Frequent urination
  • Nightmares or insomnia
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Morning dry mouth
  • Depression and anxiety

What’s the solution?

Traditionally, the “gold standard” for sleep apnea treatment is the CPAP machine. CPAPs are highly effective when used properly, but they are not very user-friendly so most patients end up abandoning the treatment because it prevents them from finding restful sleep – kind of defeats the purpose, right?

Thankfully, your Mason dentist has a wonderful alternative with oral appliance therapy. Oral appliance therapy uses a custom oral appliance that’s worn like a mouthguard during sleep. The device is designed to fit your mouth and individual needs to gently shift the lower jaw forward. This slight shift in the jaw effectively prevents the airway from collapsing, allowing you to breathe comfortably throughout the night.

If any of the above sounds familiar, or you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea and have tried a CPAP without success, you should seriously consider oral appliance therapy. This simple, non-invasive solution could dramatically change your quality of sleep, your quality of life during the day, and could even prevent a major health problem like a heart attack down the road.

Health Consequences

Sleep apnea results in low blood oxygen levels, increasing your risk for serious health problems and a slow deterioration of the immune system.

  • Heart Disease: 23 times more likely to have a heart attack
  • Brain: 3 times more likely to have a stroke
  • Weight Gain & Obesity: Hormonal changes influence overeating
  • Diabetes: Causes insulin resistance and 3 times more likely to develop diabetes
  • Auto Accidents: Greater risk for falling asleep or tired, inattentive driving
  • Teeth: Nighttime grinding causes excessive wear, prone to fracture and breakage
  • TMJ: Nighttime grinding causes breakdown in the jaw joint

Let’s Get Started

If you have any questions about sleep apnea or would like to schedule an appointment with your Mason dentist, Dr. Lance at Miami Valley Smiles, give us a call today at (513) 398-0038 or request an appointment online below! We look forward to smiling with you.


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