Feeling Sleepy? It Might be Sleep Apnea


Woman Yawning

Being tired all the time might be a sign that you need to go to bed earlier—or it could mean there’s a more serious, underlying issue that’s disrupting your sleep, such as sleep apnea. So what is this condition and how can it be treated? We’ve got some answers for you!

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition when breathing stops repeatedly while you sleep. In most cases, people with sleep apnea don’t wake up when this happens and aren’t even aware that they stopped breathing. People who suffer from sleep apnea not only wake up feeling tired, they are at a higher risk of long-term health problems such as high blood pressure, depression, stroke, heart failure, and diabetes.

There are two main types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. Central sleep apnea occurs when there is a problem with the signals the brain sends to the breathing muscles, and may occur because of another condition, such as a stroke or heart failure. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when airflow is blocked during sleep, and can happen when the soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses.

Who suffers from sleep apnea?

Anyone can have sleep apnea at any age, even children — in fact, the American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that 22 Million suffer from this disorder, with 80% of the cases of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea undiagnosed. For adults, the risk for sleep apnea is greater if you:

  • Are male
  • Are over 40
  • Have a family history of sleep apnea
  • Have a deviated septum, allergies, or other sinus problems

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

The symptoms of sleep apnea include irritability, depression, fatigue, and headache. In children, other common symptoms are ADD/ADHD, poor school performance, chronic allergies, eczema, asthma, and mouth breathing, and snoring and teeth grinding during sleep.

How can Academy Dental Care help prevent sleep apnea?

At Academy Dental Care, we use the HealthyStart™ system to help children with sleep apnea. This is a removable orthodontic appliance worn during sleep that works by expanding the child’s airway and helping the jaw to develop properly.

There are many things to like about the HealthyStart™ system — for one thing, if a child starts using it early enough, it is a permanent fix for sleep-related breathing problems. Our patients (and their parents) like the fact that the system is non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical, comfortable, and pain free. And, it even straightens teeth!

For adults, we offer sleep appliances that can be used to help with sleep at night. Dental appliances that reposition the lower jaw and the tongue have been helpful for some patients with sleep apnea.  Most of these devices are composed of two separate arches (upper and lower). This custom oral appliance, worn while sleeping, holds the lower jaw forward and open, to prevent the tongue and throat tissues from collapsing the critical airway.

There is a 96% success rate (snoring) for people treated with these appliances. These appliances reduce health risks associated with sleep apnea without the need for surgery, medications, or other therapies. However, to be effective, the appliances must be used.

If you or your child has been diagnosed with a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, we can help! Make an appointment for your child at Academy Dental Care today to discuss our treatment options!