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Sleep Apnea FAQ from Our Tukwila, WA, Team

Sleep apnea prevents adults from getting a good night of sleep by affecting natural breathing patterns. This can range from snoring to pauses, or hitches, in breath that force you to wake up abruptly throughout the night. Whatever form the symptoms take, patients living with sleep apnea may feel that there are no convenient solutions. The Smiles @ Southcenter dental team in Tukwila would like to change your perception about living with sleep apnea, so we encourage you to make an appointment with us if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea already or would like an exam if you are experiencing some telltale symptoms.

What causes sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a term for obstructed breathing while you sleep. Sometimes, your own tongue and throat muscles relax unconsciously to block your windpipe, while it can also be related to large tonsils or other structural elements of your mouth, throat, and windpipe. Sleep apnea isn’t something that you can “catch” or prevent. However, overweight adults are typically at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Because sleep apnea symptoms are only present when sleeping, often it’s the partner of a patient who notices the symptoms first. Snoring is a common symptom, but snoring is not a definitive diagnosis since there are also sinus-related reasons to snore that have nothing to do with sleep apnea. During the day, patients might also experience headaches or sleepiness, but these symptoms are also hard to pinpoint directly to sleep apnea.

A more reliable sign is suspended breathing while asleep. This means a person may stop breathing for a few seconds periodically throughout the night and then resume with a large, deep breath. If the symptoms are not severe, only the partner may notice. In some cases, loud snoring or a long pause in breathing is strong enough to wake up the person with sleep apnea. If this happens to you a few times a week, please contact our office for an exam so we can help you sleep through the night!

How do I know if I have sleep apnea?

A definite diagnosis requires a monitored sleep test for a full night, called a polysomnogram, to monitor your breathing and brain activity.

What are the treatment options available for sleep apnea?

The most well-known treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. It works effectively to keep the patient breathing evenly by pushing air through a face mask worn at night, but it’s a large, somewhat noisy, and inconvenient device to keep by your bed each night.

Fortunately, sleep apnea patients can also talk to our team about Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT). This device is much smaller and worn at night like a mouth guard to ensure your mouth and throat remain unobstructed throughout the night.

How does the Moses oral appliance manage snoring and sleep apnea?

At Smiles @ Southcenter, we’re proud to offer custom-fit Moses OATs to help patients get a full night of sleep. The Moses repositions the lower jaw while you sleep, moving it forward to keep your airways open.

Why purchase a custom oral appliance instead of a one-size-fits-all device?

A one-size appliance purchased in a store won’t fit your mouth precisely, which can fail to solve (or even exacerbate) the problem. A trained dentist will make sure that a custom-fit device is safe, comfortable, and effective. Many insurance plans even cover the cost of an OAT.

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