Find Sleep Relief at Whidbey Dental Associates
We all know what it feels like to have a miserable night of sleep. The next day feels groggy, less energetic, and less enjoyable, making basic daily tasks more challenging to navigate. While not necessarily as obvious initially, this happens with chronic snoring and sleep apnea. Often, we find ways to cope with symptoms of chronic poor sleep (coffee, tea, or other ‘energizing’ beverages), which helps us to ignore the underlying concern; simply not sleeping well. That’s why it’s crucial to seek a proper diagnosis and find an effective treatment.
At Whidbey Dental Associates, our team practices dental sleep medicine to combat sleep apnea and loud snoring. We provide treatment for adult snoring and obstructive sleep apnea as an alternative to CPAP, using a special airway-supporting oral appliance. Discover how our effective treatment can help you find sleep relief.
What Is Snoring & Sleep Apnea?
Snoring and sleep apnea are common breathing disorders that negatively impact your ability to breathe normally while sleeping. It occurs when your airway is restricted, preventing an inhale when you need air, and causing you to wake up (often without realizing it) repeatedly throughout the night. Because of these disruptions, your sleep quality can be severely impacted, leading to chronic low energy, poor mood, and impaired focus.
This can lead to excessive daytime tiredness, fatigue, stress, home/work/motor vehicle accidents, and diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, depression/anxiety, heart attack, and stroke. Likewise, research has shown treatment of sleep breathing concerns shows a positive benefit for treating or managing these same diseases.
Sleep Apnea & Your Relationship
Second-hand snoring affects your partner, too, and negatively impacts their health! Sleep-disordered breathing is one of the few conditions that have true adverse impacts on your partner’s health. If loud snoring disturbs their sleep, they’ll also suffer poor sleep quality.
Unlike a random night with lousy sleep, people suffering from chronic snoring or sleep apnea need support to get a better night of sleep. We can help! A better night for you and your partner starts with a simple conversation.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Here are the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea:
- Snoring is the most common indicator of impaired breathing
- Gasping for air observed by your sleep partner or experienced by you when waking up from sleep
- Insomnia — difficulty falling or staying asleep. Especially waking up in the early hours of the night and not being about to fall back asleep.
- Tiredness or feeling of fatigue throughout the day, despite having regular sleep
- Acid reflux at night, waking with a burning esophagus, or having a sour taste in the mouth
- Frequent urination at night
- Caffeine need — feeling the need to drink excessive caffeine (2 or 3+ cups) to get through the day
- Impaired concentration — difficulty focusing during the day
- Short-term memory loss — memory changes or difficulty recalling short-term memory, especially in younger patients
- Morning headaches — particularly in the temples or in the forehead
- Jaw pain, tightness in the morning, or nighttime teeth clenching and grinding
- Depression and Anxiety
Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea
Substantial research shows there are many risk factors involved with sleep breathing concerns, all of which impact the airway differently. In more severe cases, usually, several risk factors play together, making breathing worse. General trends have identified gentlemen as more likely to be impacted than ladies, and risk is significantly increased as our bodies gain excess weight, and or age.
However, these are just trends. The truth is, anyone can be impacted; infants/kids, young adults with or without a healthy weight, and fitness-forward patients are still at risk. Make sure to keep an eye out for symptoms if you fit into one of these categories:
- Constricted nose — Makes it difficult to breathe through the nose, often associated with mouth breathing.
- Nicotine or alcohol in the hours leading to sleep
- Certain medication
- Narrow oral cavity or a large tongue
- Family history — like many other health concerns, our genetics play a big role.
Already use a CPAP?
If you already know you have obstructive sleep apnea, you may already use some form of PAP (positive air pressure) machine: CPAP, APAP, or BiPAP. The machine works by using air pressure to inflate the collapsed portion of the airway, keeping it open, so you can inhale when you need to.
When it’s tolerated, a PAP machine works well. Often we ask our PAP users, “Do you have a good relationship with your machine?” Some users love their machine and find it well suited for their condition or habits. Often, however, users report struggling to use their mask day-after-day, or consistently through the whole night.
The Side Effects of Using a CPAP Machine
CPAP machines deliver continuous pressurized air through a mask worn over your face while you sleep. It can be a noisy inconvenience to the patient and their sleep partner, making it difficult to continue the treatment. Other side effects of CPAP machines include:
- Mask leak
- Dry mouth
- Skin irritation or infections
- Unwillingness to wear it
- Bulky, Difficult to travel with
- Dry, stuffy nose or nosebleed
- Subconsciously removing mask while sleeping
If you struggle with your mask/machine and need another option, a simple consultation with Dr. Jared can help determine if an oral appliance is an appropriate alternative.
Consulting With Dr. Wirth
We screen our patients for sleep breathing concerns and identify at-risk patients who should consider talking further with their physicians. Your physician will make a diagnosis of snoring or sleep apnea.
Once a diagnosis has been made, the appropriate course of treatment can be decided upon. When appropriate, we fabricate a custom-made, adjustable, FDA-approved oral appliance that fits like a night guard over the top and bottom teeth.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is an alternative to CPAP therapy. Worn while you sleep, an oral appliance repositioning the lower jaw and tongue base forward to maintain a more open upper airway. Unlike CPAP machines, oral appliances are comfortable, easily portable, and allow you to sleep in any position.
How Our Oral Appliance Therapy Process Works
When Dr. Wirth approves you for oral appliance therapy, we’ll get started on creating your treatment plan. Your visit involves the customized selection, fabrication, fitting, adjustments, and long-term follow-up care of specially designed oral devices.
The appliance has a small connecting mechanism that gently holds the lower jaw forward, minimizing the tongue’s and jaw’s backward collapse into the airway while breathing. Since tooth grinding is a common association with poor sleep breathing, the appliance doubles as protection against clenching and grinding.
Appliances are compact enough to fit in your pocket, and they don’t have any hoses to clean or change, no machines to plug in, and no noisy air to wake you or your partner. Oral appliances are comfortable, non-invasive, and work well for most patients.
About Dr. Jared
Dr. Jared Wirth has completed the most extensive training available for managing sleep-disordered breathing and holds his Diplomate with the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine. He’s well-versed in the management of sleep breathing disorders and is an excellent resource to talk about your sleep-breathing concerns. While not every patient will be a candidate for treatment with Dr. Jared, he still enjoys educating and empowering patients along their journey to a better night of sleep!
Frequently Asked Questions
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder caused by a blockage in the airway from a relaxation of the muscles in the back of your throat. Several factors lead to sleep apnea, such as:
- Excess weight
- Large neck circumference
- Family history
- Narrow airway
- Nasal congestion
- Medical conditions
- Alcohol and tobacco use
- Certain medications
If sleep apnea is left untreated, your sleep quality can be severely impacted, leading to chronic low energy, poor mood, and impaired focus. This can lead to excessive daytime tiredness, fatigue, stress, and home/work/motor vehicle accidents.
It can also lead to serious health complications such as depression/anxiety, heart attack, heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. It’s crucial to undergo a sleep study to receive a diagnosis before seeking treatment. Research has shown receiving treatment is a positive benefit for treating or managing these same diseases. Schedule your consultation with your sleep dentist to get started on finding sleep relief.