What treatment options are available for sleep apnea?

What treatment options are available for sleep apnea?

Jul 11, 2022

Many people perceive snoring when sleeping to be normal. Although snoring can be common in adults, it is NOT a normal way to breathe. While several factors can cause snoring, loud snoring is often associated with a serious sleep disorder called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea happens when normal breathing is interrupted during sleep. While it can affect anyone, sleep apnea is common among overweight and older men. Contact our team for sleep apnea treatment near you.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are two types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common, and it happens when the throat muscles relax too much, blocking the airway and preventing normal breathing. Breathing usually resumes within a few seconds.

Central sleep apnea is the second type of sleep apnea. It happens when the brain fails to signal the muscles that control breathing. Complex sleep apnea is the rarest type of sleep apnea. It happens when one has both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Regardless of which type of sleep apnea you have, you can experience multiple episodes of breath interruptions. These episodes can lead to poor quality sleep, reduced oxygen flow to your organs, and heart rhythm irregularities. If left untreated, regular sleep apnea can lead to serious health complications like stroke, hypertension, cardiomyopathy, diabetes, heart failure, depression and heart attacks.

Untreated sleep apnea is also associated with work-related accidents, poor school performance, and job impairments. If you have or suspect you have sleep apnea, seek treatment from a prosthodontist near you. Sometimes the signs of sleep apnea are recognized by the sleep partner, not the patient.

Signs to watch out for include:

  • Daytime fatigue or sleepiness
  • Loud snoring
  • Morning dry mouth or sore throat
  • Sudden awakenings while gasping or choking
  • Frequent nighttime awakenings or insomnia
  • Restlessness during sleep
  • Night sweats
  • Mood disturbances like anxiety or depression
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Cognitive impairments like irritability, forgetfulness, and trouble concentrating
  • Morning headaches
  • Sexual dysfunction

Treatment for Sleep Apnea

If you have sleep apnea, your treatment will depend on the severity of your condition. Before treatment, a sleep doctor will diagnose your sleep apnea, after you complete a simple at home sleep study. Based on the results, you may have the following treatments recommended:

Conservative treatments

Conservative therapies are all you might need for mild or inconsistent sleep apnea. These include:

  • Losing weight for overweight and obese patients
  • Exercising to maintain a healthy weight and increase oxygen flow to vital body organs
  • Quitting tobacco products
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
  • Creating a healthy sleeping pattern and position (sleeping on the side is recommended)
  • Eating healthier and hydrating well
  • Avoiding certain medications like sleeping pills and anti-anxiety drugs
  • Using nasal sprays or breathing strips for nasal congestion or sinus problems

Along with lifestyle changes, your dentist can recommend additional treatments, especially if you have moderate to severe sleep apnea. These include

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

CPAP is the most widely used device for positive airway pressure therapy. It’s for moderate to severe cases of sleep apnea. The treatment involves wearing a mask over the nose or mouth. The CPAP machine gently delivers air pressure through the mask, preventing airway closing.

The air pressure from the machine is higher than that of your sleeping environment, thus preventing your airway tissues from collapsing when sleeping. Unfortunately, CPAP therapy doesn’t address the underlying cause. It only prevents apnea episodes and must therefore be used continuously. Similarly, some patients report discomfort when using the machine.

Mandibular Advancement Devices

Your dentist can recommend oral devices for mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea. These devices keep your airway open when sleeping, preventing sleep apnea and helping you sleep better. There are several types of dental appliances for sleep apnea.

Tongue-retaining devices prevent your tongue from relaxing too much and causing airway obstruction. The dentist can also use dental devices like mouthguards to keep your airway open by adjusting the jaw movements. When considering oral devices for sleep apnea, make sure you work with customized devices from a certified and experienced dentist or sleep specialist.


If other treatments aren’t effective, you can benefit from surgery. Depending on your condition, your options include:

  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. Removing excess tissues from the top of the throat or back of your mouth)
  • Jaw surgery (maxillomandibular advancements)
  • Tracheostomy (surgical opening in the neck)
  • Nasal surgery
  • Surgery to remove enlarged adenoids or tonsils

Schedule an Appointment Today

For more information about sleep apnea treatment in Calgary, contact Northwest Prosthodontics to book your appointment today.

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