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Frequently Asked Questions

Sleep apnea affects such a large portion of our population, but is still unfamiliar to most people. We’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions related to sleep apnea. If you find that you still have questions we haven’t answered here, please call our office. We’d love the opportunity to make sure you completely understand sleep apnea and the treatment options you have.

What is the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?

Snoring occurs when the soft tissues in the mouth and throat partially obstruct the airway, which causes them to vibrate as air rushes past them. Sleep apnea, on the other hand, occurs when there is a complete blockage of the airway that prevents a person from breathing. It is often preceded by snoring, but not always. In any case, a person who consistently snores should have a consultation with Dr. Dernick to make sure they are not also suffering from sleep apnea.

Are there different kinds of sleep apnea?

Yes. The most common type is called obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, and this means that someone’s breathing is being cut off due to the soft tissues in the mouth and throat collapsing into the airway during the night. Central sleep apnea, or CSA, is less prevalent and happens when the brain stops sending the body the signal to breathe while sleeping. There is also complex sleep apnea, which is a combination of the two.

How do I get a sleep apnea diagnosis?

There are two primary ways to do this. You can either talk to your family doctor about your sleep issues, and then they’ll likely recommend you to a local sleep doctor. Or, you can start the process right now and take our quick STOP-BANG Assessment. It is only 8 “Yes or No” questions and takes less than a minute to complete. It will quickly let our team know how at risk you are for having sleep apnea. After submitting it, we’ll evaluate your answers and contact you within 24 hours to let you know what you should do next.

What should I do if I already have a diagnosis for sleep apnea?

You should schedule a consultation with Dr. Dernick in order to determine your best treatment option. We can provide oral appliance therapy as well as help you get combined therapy.

Is an oral appliance as effective as a CPAP machine?

This really depends on an individual patient. Often, oral appliance therapy is just as or more effective than CPAP therapy simply because a patient is willing to use it consistently because the treatment is more comfortable. However, sometimes CPAP therapy (or combined therapy) is absolutely necessary for those patients who have severe sleep apnea. Dr. Dernick can help you figure out which treatment is best for you after a consultation.

Will my insurance cover sleep apnea therapy?

Medical insurance and Medicare will often cover part of the cost of sleep apnea therapy. In some cases, dental insurance may provide some coverage for oral appliance therapy as well. Our insurance coordinator, Stacey, can work with you to help you figure out the most effective way to save on your care.

Why Should I See a Dentist for Sleep Apnea Treatment?

While it may not be readily apparent; dentists are some of the most qualified people to help you with obstructive sleep apnea issues. They are experts in the upper respiratory area where tissues from the mouth and neck obstruct the airway during sleep, resulting in OSA symptoms. Dentists can help by offering treatments that reposition the lower jaw to keep the area clear. This creates a healthy airway for unobstructed breathing during sleep. If you already regularly see your dentist for checkups, you can easily discuss any sleep-related issues you may have.

Can My Dentist Diagnose Sleep Apnea?

Unfortunately, no. While dentists can offer treatment to help you with sleep apnea, they cannot diagnose the condition. Only a qualified sleep doctor can. However, Dr. Dernick can perform a screening to see if you should undergo the testing. This saves you time and money as you’ll have an official recommendation to take your sleep test. Dr. Dernick can also help coordinate your care with your sleep doctor, making the process easier for you.

How Long Are Apnea Events or Episodes?

Apnea events typically last for 10 seconds or longer, sometimes extending up to 2 minutes. They can occur anywhere from 5 to 30 times per hour of sleep. This is one reason why a sleep test is necessary before you undergo treatment. It will show the severity of your condition, including how frequently episodes occur and the type of sleep apnea you have.

How Can I Travel with Sleep Apnea?

It’s difficult to travel with a CPAP machine, but not impossible, especially if you have a more portable model. However, you’ll need to allocate plenty of space in your bags to accommodate the mask, hoses, and the machine itself. However, if you’ve decided on oral appliance treatment, it can fit in a single zippered pouch. Regardless of the treatment, it’s important to try to maintain as much of your normal sleep schedule as possible. Consistency increases the likelihood of getting sufficient sleep, ensuring you feel well-rested during your travels.