Sleep Apnea: What You Need to Know

Wife holding ears in bed next to her husband who is snoring

Three million new cases of sleep apnea are diagnosed each year in the United States. Here at Greenspoint Dental, we can help you with this sleep disorder. Our own Dr. Burton is certified to treat sleep breathing disorders, including sleep apnea.


Here are 5 things you need to know about sleep apnea.


What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep breathing disorder. While sleeping, a person with sleep apnea stops breathing for several moments at a time, all throughout the night.


There are 2 types of sleep apnea, which are:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – This is caused by a blockage of the airway. The muscles in the throat relax and cause the windpipe to narrow, restricting your airway.
  • Central Sleep Apnea – This less common type of disorder occurs when the brain fails to signal the throat muscles to breathe.

This sleeping disorder moves you out of a deep sleep into a light sleep, which can impact your endurance and alertness throughout the day.


Common Symptoms

There are many different symptoms that may indicate you have sleep apnea. Some common symptoms include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Dry or sore throat
  • Waking up gasping or choking
  • Being tired during the day
  • Sleepiness while driving
  • Morning headaches
  • Restless sleep or insomnia



Tired man holding a cup of coffee with one hand and trying to hold his eye open with the other hand


What Makes it So Harmful?

Even if you aren’t impacted by the sleep disorder and get sufficient rest, WebMD explains that sleep apnea can lead to other health issues, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Reduced amounts of oxygen reaching your brain
  • Heart problems
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Worsening of ADHD
  • Headaches


This sleep disorder can have negative effects on other parts of your life as well. Without enough rest, you won’t be able to work as effectively and you won’t be as alert when driving. Also, a lack of sleep can lead to mood swings.



There are many ways to treat sleep apnea and the appropriate treatment for you will depend on the severity of your sleeping disorder and other factors.


For mild cases, many things can be done at home to help combat the sleeping disorder. Many people find different sleeping positions to help open up their airways. Avoiding alcohol, sleeping pills, and smoking can help.


For more serious cases, a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine or surgery may be required.


Little boy sleeping with a CPAP mask on his face to treat sleep apnea


However, there are a couple of dental options to help treat sleep apnea.


Dental Treatments

For people with mild symptoms of this sleep disorder or those with mild OSA, mouthpieces are a great way to treat the sleep disorder.


Eliminating the need for a CPAP machine, we will fit you with a custom oral mouthpiece. The dental appliance pushes your lower jaw forward and keeps your muscles tight, preventing your airway from becoming obstructed.


Laser dentistry is another way to treat the sleep disorder. The dentist will use a light beam to reshape and remove the extra soft tissue at the back of your mouth that blocks your airway.


There is generally no pain associated with the laser treatment and because it sterilizes the surfaces it touches, laser dentistry reduces bacterial infections.


Woman patient in dental chair talking with dentist while holding the side of her face


For more information or to schedule a dental appointment, contact Greenspoint Dental in Houston, Texas. We are dedicated to providing you and your loved ones with the best dental care.