What Is Sleep Apnea and How Do You Treat It?

What Is Sleep Apnea and How Do You Treat It?

Posted by Covington Dentistry on Apr 10 2017, 12:36 PM

Sleep apnea, a sleeping disorder wherein a person has difficulty in their breathing during their sleep, can affect anyone, but mostly older men who are overweight. A person with sleep apnea experiences repeated stops and starts in their breathing cycle. 

The most common sleep apnea that people have is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) where the upper airway is physically blocked. Another common type of sleep apnea is known as central sleep apnea (CSA) where there is a complication in the signaling of the nervous system.


A person with sleep apnea can be unaware of the symptoms, but another person can notice that the person with sleep apnea: 

  • Has stopped breathing for a while
  • Is gasping for air
  • Is snoring loudly

Other symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Heartburn
  • Restless sleep or insomnia
  • Waking up several times to urinate
  • Dry mouth or sore throat after sleep


Changes in Your Lifestyle

A lifestyle change is critical for healthy and normal breathing patterns. They include: 

  • Developing healthy sleeping habits
  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Quitting smoking
  • Managing your weight
  • Following a heart-healthy diet
  • Sleeping on the side

Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) Therapy 

CPAP is the main treatment done for patients with sleep apnea. A mask provides a gentle constant stream of positive air pressure and keeps the airway open. 

Some people unfortunately stop the therapy midway before achieving any lasting benefits. There are many ways to make this therapy comfortable as you please. The mask and the equipment settings can be adjusted to your liking. You can also try adding moisture to the air to relieve nasal symptoms. 


Surgical procedures can widen the airway. The surgery may stiffen or shrink the tissue, or they will remove the excess tissue or enlarged tonsils. 

Mandibular Repositioning Device (MRD) 

Individuals with mild or moderate OSA can use this custom-made oral appliance called Mandibular Repositioning Device (MRD). It expands the space behind the tongue using a mouthpiece that holds the jaw in a forward position. This prevents sleep apnea and snoring. 

Side effects of MRD may include the following:

  • Jaw or tooth pain
  • Potential aggravation of a temporomandibular joint disease


Some medicines help with Central Sleep Apnea but should only be taken after consulting a sleep specialist:

  • acetazolamide
  • zolpidem
  • triazolam

These medications might have severe side effects and therefore may not be suitable for certain people. 

Visit us at Covington Dentistry, 27121 174th Place SE, Suite 202, Covington, WA 98042. Contact us at (253) 638-9955 or schedule an appointment online. 

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