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What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious condition characterized by pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep. While sleeping, these pauses can last for a few seconds to a few minutes, multiple times each night. In some cases, this interruption in breathing can occur hundreds of times in a single night. In the most common form, the pauses follow loud snoring.  There may be choking or snorting sounds as breathing resumes.  If untreated, sleep apnea can prevent you from ever having a good night’s sleep, resulting in chronic fatigue. The long-term health risks include weight gain, heart disease, diabetes,high blood pressure and stroke.  In children it may cause problems with focusing in school or hyperactivity.  

Our dentists and hygienists are well trained to recognize the presence and patterns of wear on teeth that can result from sleep apnea.  If we noticed signs and symptoms that cause us to suspect some form of sleep apnea, we will discuss it with you.  Often we recommend sleep studies to determine if you have sleep apnea and the severity.   

If you suspect you have some form of sleep apnea, please call Porteous and Burke Family Dentistry for a consultation.


Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea:​

Sleep apnea can occur in both children and adults, and certain factors can increase your risk:

  • Excessive weight - Extra weight or bulk around your chest and neck can obstruct your breathing when you lay down, however both thin and overweight people can develop sleep apnea.

  • Narrowed airways - If you have a naturally small or narrow throat, or if your adenoids or tonsils are enlarged, this can cause your airway to be blocked while you sleep..

  • Smoking - Smokers are three times more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea than non-smokers.

  • Neck circumference - People with a thick neck sometimes have a narrowed airway.

  • Being a male - Men are twice as likely to develop sleep apnea than women.

  • Being older - Sleep apnea is common in adults over the age of 60.

Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Talk to your dentist or doctor if you are experiencing the following symptoms:


  • Excessive daytime sleepiness

  • Loud snoring

  • Morning headaches

  • Insomnia or difficulty staying sleep

  • Attention or concentration problems

  • Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep, as witnessed by another person

  • Abruptly waking up with shortness of breath

  • Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth


If you have been diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea, and are unable to use a C-pap machine effectively, our office can design an appliance that repositions your jaw while you sleep to help open your airway.  To see how that works, here’s a short video: 

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