Ask a Dentist: Am I Suffering From Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea Brooklyn, NY

Many common conditions affect the quality of a person's sleep. Stress, lifestyle, sinus problems, and sleep apnea are among the causes of sleep problems. Sleep apnea is a condition that a dentist can treat. However, because other sleep problems tend to produce similar symptoms, a professional evaluation is a must.  

What is sleep apnea?

This is a form of sleep disturbance where the individual briefly stops breathing at many times during the night. The stopping and starting process interferes with sleep. This condition may be caused by an excess of soft tissue in the throat or when the brain is not sending the correct signals to certain muscles that control breathing. Sometimes, both issues occur at the same time. An accurate diagnosis requires a professional medical evaluation. 

As with any medical condition, several factors increase a person's risk of having this condition. Risk factors stem from age, gender, lifestyle, and medical conditions. Being male and overweight increases an individual's risk. Chronic nasal congestion can cause nighttime breathing problems. A handful of genetic factors, like a narrow windpipe or a relatively thick neck, also increase the risk. Lifestyle is also relevant, as smoking and alcohol consumption increase the risk of obstructive sleep apnea, as does age.

Apnea symptoms

Some symptoms are hard to detect by the individual sufferer. A romantic partner or family member may notice loud snoring or frequent sleep interruptions that suggest apnea as a problem. Loud snoring may be absent even though two or three other symptoms are present. Many symptoms are easy for the individual to identify:

  • Frequently waking up during the night
  • Feeling tired during the day
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • A headache in the morning
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Gasping for air at night

Unfortunately, these symptoms can indicate multiple sleep problems. If these symptoms persist, they may indicate one of several sleep problems. If it is sleep apnea, this fortunately is something your dentist can often diagnose and treat without surgery. 

What are the treatment options?

The correct treatment approach depends on whether the cause is in the throat or in the brain, or a combination of both sources. Lifestyle changes can bring some relief where the patient is overweight, a smoker, or a heavy drinker. Diet, exercise, and smoking cessation programs can all eliminate factors that contribute to the problem.

Treating an underlying medical condition, like high blood pressure or chronic sinus problems, can also bring relief. In some cases of sleep apnea, a doctor or dentist may prescribe a CPAP machine or an oral appliance that facilitates easy breathing at night. Some patients may need surgery, either on their airways to open them up, or weight loss surgery. 


Sleep problems stem from many lifestyle factors and health conditions. Sleep apnea is one of those problems that can develop because of genetics or lifestyle. The symptoms can be vague, but the condition is easy to diagnose and treat with professional help. 

Request an appointment here: or call Garden Dental Arts at (718) 416-6367 for an appointment in our Brooklyn office.

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