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Sleep Apnea – The Woodlands, TX

Find a Solution for Your Sleep-Disordered Breathing

Man with sleep apnea in The Woodlands, TX snoring in bed

Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders in the world; in fact, it affects more than 18 million individuals in the United States alone. Ignoring sleep apnea can leave you feeling exhausted during the day and eventually lead to heart disease and other life-threatening health problems.

At our practice, Dr. Robert Dernick and the rest of our team can help you overcome your sleep apnea, allowing you to get the rest you need to operate at your best during the day. Call us to learn more about the solutions we offer to treat sleep apnea.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Woman with sleep apnea in The Woodlands, TX sleeping in bed

To put it simply, sleep apnea is when there are brief yet repeated pauses in your breathing while you’re asleep. Every time your breathing stops, your brain forces your body to partially wake up for oxygen. These pauses can happen hundreds of times in a single night, preventing you from getting quality sleep.

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which often occurs when the airway is blocked by relaxed soft tissues in your mouth or throat. Meanwhile, central sleep apnea (CSA) is the result of the brain failing to send the signals that control breathing while you sleep. There’s also a third form of sleep apnea known as complex sleep apnea, which is a combination of OSA and CSA.

Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Woman awake next to snoring man

  • Loud, chronic snoring
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness
  • Waking up gasping for air or out of breath
  • Frequent morning headaches, sore throat, or dry mouth
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering things
  • Mood swings or depression
  • Persistent weight gain/trouble losing weight
  • Sexual dysfunction

Sleep Apnea & Snoring

Snoring man in bed

Snoring is one of the most common signs that a person has sleep apnea, but not everyone who snores necessarily has the disorder. While sleep apnea refers to a complete blockage of the airway, snoring actually occurs due to a partial blockage. As air passes through the throat, it causes the tissues in the mouth and throat to vibrate, creating the sound we’re all familiar with.

While it may be easy to simply categorize snoring as a simple annoyance, it can still indicate that a person isn’t getting the quality of sleep that they need. Also, people who snore are more likely to develop a sleep disorder in the future.

Snoring treatment is available at our practice to help both patients and their bed partners sleep better here in The Woodlands. This usually comes in the form of an oral appliance, one that is very similar to those Dr. Dernick uses to treat sleep apnea. If chronic snoring is a problem for you, just give our office a call, and we’ll be happy to help.

The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Man in white shirt sleeping and snoring in bed

When sleep apnea isn’t addressed, it can lead to:

  • Feeling chronically fatigued and exhausted during the day
  • An increased risk of heart problems
  • Weight gain
  • Trouble with memory and paying attention
  • Depression or irritability
  • Dozing off while driving

The consequences of sleep apnea will grow worse the longer you leave it untreated. We recommend calling our office immediately as soon as you realize that you’re experiencing symptoms that can point to sleep apnea

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

Close-up of an oral appliance used to treat sleep apnea in The Woodlands, TX

While sleep apnea is an extremely common condition, it can also be treated in a variety of ways. At our office, we offer oral appliance therapy and combined therapy as potential solutions for sleep-disordered breathing.

Oral Appliance Therapy

Patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea can benefit from wearing a customized oral appliance. This simple device can move your lower jaw forward and/or hold your tongue in place to prevent obstructions of the airway. At the beginning of your treatment, we’ll take an impression of your mouth; that way, we can ensure that your oral appliance fits as comfortably as possible. Since oral appliances are small, they’re easy to pack, making them very convenient while traveling.

Learn More About Oral Appliance Therapy

Combined Therapy

Oral appliance therapy is often offered as an alternative to CPAP therapy, but we can also combine both treatments so that you can enjoy the benefits of each. With your oral appliance helping to keep your airway open, your CPAP machine can be used at a lower setting; not only does this make it more comfortable to use, but it also reduces the noise, making it much easier for you to fall and stay asleep.

Learn More About Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral Appliance Therapy Vs CPAP Therapy

While CPAP therapy is often considered to be the gold standard for sleep apnea treatment, as many as half of the people with CPAP machines never use them. This is often due to the noise that the machine makes, which can disturb patients (as well as anyone trying to sleep nearby). Also, many people find the masks worn for CPAP therapy to be very uncomfortable.

In comparison, oral appliance therapy is quieter and tends to cause less discomfort thanks to the appliance being customized for the patient’s unique smile. If you’re CPAP intolerant, we encourage you to call our office to see if oral appliance therapy might be a viable alternative.

Is Oral Appliance Therapy Covered by Insurance?

Woman sleeping soundly

Even though oral appliance therapy is provided by a dentist, it is often covered by a patient’s medical insurance as opposed to their dental insurance. This is because the treatment is addressing a medical problem, not a dental one. Thankfully, our insurance coordinator, Stacey, knows all about this! She can help you figure out the best way to use your plan to save on your care. We happily accept virtually all insurance plans, including Medicare. She’ll work with you to make sure your treatment fits easily into your budget.

Interesting Sleep Apnea Facts

Woman reading a book

  1. Generally, sleep doctors believe that average healthy adults should only need about 7-9 hours of sleep each night to feel well rested during the day.
  2. Sleep apnea can make it mor difficult to lose weight as well as keep it off
  3. Chronic sleep deprivation can cause memory problems because it prevents the brain from being able to properly organize information at the end of the day.
  4. Many people who suffer from sleep apnea mistakenly believe they are insomnics because the breathing cessations cause them to wake often.
  5. Snoring is one of the most common signs of sleep apnea, but not all people who snore have the condition. However, those who do consistently snore are most liekly to develop a sleep disorder in the future.
  6. It has been shown in multiple studies that driving while drowsy is more dangerous than driving while drunk.
  7. Up to 80% of all people with sleep apnea are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
  8. If you frequently wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, it could be a sign of sleep apnea. Many apnea patients are unaware that they are being woken up by a stoppage in breathing.
  9. Nighttime teeth grinding, AKA bruxism, may also indicate sleep apnea as well.
  10. A larger-than-average neck or tongue can also cause a person to have sleep apnea symptoms.