Dental Tips |4 min read

The Real Truth About Obstructive Sleep Apnea (It’s Not Just Snoring!)

A man looking at his female partner snoring with obstructive sleep apnea in annoyance

There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed.

Today, we’re going to talk about the most common type, which is obstructive sleep apnea.

You may associate this with snoring, which is a common symptom. But this sleep disorder goes far beyond that!

Being aware of the risks and seeking treatment may save your or a loved one’s life.

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is where your breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a type of sleep apnea where the soft tissues in the back of your throat intermittently relax and block your airway during sleep.

It may impair your breathing for 10 seconds or longer and up to 30 times or more throughout the night.

When this happens, your brain senses a lack of oxygen and sends you a signal to resume breathing. This alert rouses you enough to reopen your airway and resume breathing but doesn’t usually awaken you completely.

However, this disruption to your sleep does have damaging effects like reducing your quality of sleep. More to come on that.

What causes it?

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs in all age groups and genders.

Common causes… This text opens a new tab to the website… include:

  • Being overweight
  • Having a recessed chin
  • Having a small jaw or large overbite
  • Having a large neck size
  • Smoking or alcohol use
  • Being over the age of 40
  • Being a male
  • Ethnicity
  • Genetics

When addressing your OSA, you must find the root cause of your sleep disorder to find a long-term solution.

What happens with untreated sleep apnea?

It’s estimated more than 22 million Americans… This text opens a new tab to the website… suffer from sleep apnea.

What’s even more shocking is 80 percent of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea cases are undiagnosed!

Why is this problematic?

Snoring may seem innocent, but it could have life-threatening consequences.

Untreated sleep apnea increases your risk for:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Liver problems
  • Medication or surgery complications
  • Weakened immune system
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Memory problems
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Job impairment
  • Motor vehicle crashes

The good news?

You can treat your sleep apnea and prevent these problems.

How is OSA diagnosed and evaluated?

Diagnosing yourself with sleep apnea is relatively easy if you show common symptoms, including:

  • Snoring
  • Gasping or choking while sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Learning or memory difficulties
  • Falling asleep throughout the day
  • Waking up feeling tired

If it isn’t clear, your physician may advise you to visit a sleep doctor and undergo a sleep study… This text opens a new tab to the article on diagnosing sleep apnea….

How do you treat obstructive sleep apnea?

The most common, non-surgical treatment recommended by doctors is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine (CPAP). CPAP forces air into your throat, keeping it open while you sleep.

However, many users complain about it being uncomfortable or find the noise the machine makes to be disturbing.

That’s where oral appliances by dentists come in!

A dental appliance helps with sleep apnea by gently moving your jaw forward, creating an open airway for you to breathe as you sleep continuously.

The benefits of a dental appliance vs. CPAP:

  • It doesn’t make noise
  • It’s smaller
  • It’s custom-crafted to fit over your teeth, similar to a retainer
  • It’s affordable
  • It doesn’t require surgery

Unfortunately, not all dentists are experienced or trained to offer sleep apnea treatments, so you must do your research first.

Visit Dr. Giesy for your sleep apnea needs

Our dentist in Tacoma is more than a smile expert!

Dr. Michael Giesy holds a board-certification in dental sleep medicine (sleep apnea) and owns The TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Washington… This text opens a new tab to the official website…, which is part of an international branch.

We’re one of the few dental offices in Washington that focuses on TMJ disorder, sleep apnea disorder, and craniofacial and headache pain. Our non-invasive treatments help you improve your quality of sleep and life.

To see if we’re the right fit for you, contact us to schedule a consultation.

Request An Appointment

Our sleep apnea office is located in Tacoma, WA and sees patients from all over the Pacific Northwest, including Ruston, Spanaway, Gig Harbor, Lakewood, University Place, Fircrest, Olympia, Puyallup, Federal Way, Fife, and Port Orchard.