Sleep Apnea

More than a Sleep Disorder: What is Sleep Apnea and Why Should I Care?

Sleep Apnea and CPAP

Chances are, you’ve only thought about visiting the dentist when you experience problems with your teeth and gums. But, dentists can diagnose and treat all sorts of problems that affect the mouth, throat, face and nose. For example, Dr. Mark Samuels at Lighthouse Dental in Stratford, Conn., is skilled and experienced in treating problems related to the jawbone, facial structure and sleep habits.

One such sleep-related problem is sleep apnea, a health issue that most people often don’t associate with dentistry.

If you or someone you love suffers from sleep apnea, contact Lighthouse Dental by calling (203) 742-1027 or by filling out our online appointment form to schedule a consultation to find out more about how we can help you.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder characterized by an interruption in a patient’s breathing patterns during sleep. Though many people downplay it, this disorder is actually very serious. Patients with sleep apnea can repeatedly stop breathing in their sleep, disturbing the oxygen flow to the brain and opening the way for a number of other related health issues.

What Types of Sleep Apnea are There?

The cause of sleep apnea can differ from  patient to patient, but medical professionals have outlined two general types of sleep apnea, which are:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea. OSA occurs when there is a physical blockage in the airway. Such a blockage may happen when the soft tissues in the back of the throat “collapse” during sleep, thus interrupting the flow of air to the lungs.
  • Central sleep apnea: Central sleep apnea is far less common because its cause lies in the realm of the psychological instead of the physical. With central sleep apnea, the patient’s breathing isn’t disturbed because of something in the airway itself. Rather, it occurs when the brain itself fails to signal the muscles to breathe normally.

What are Some Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea may sound like a very obvious sleep disorder, but many times it goes untreated because it can be dismissed as only a nuisance and not really health-related. It may also be difficult to detect if you sleep alone.

Symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Snoring (especially loud snoring),
  • Gasping in sleep,
  • Choking sounds made during sleep,
  • Suddenly awakenings that are accompanied by shortness of breath,
  • Sore throat and dry mouth (especially in the morning),
  • Morning headaches,
  • Insomnia, and
  • Day drowsiness.

These symptoms are quite common. Everyone experiences them at some point in their lives. As a result, it can be difficult to pinpoint sleep apnea as the specific cause of the problem. Not all snoring is associated with sleep apnea. If you do notice yourself or your sleeping partner waking in the night because of breathing problems, though, you should see a medical professional to get a professional diagnosis. Even if sleep apnea isn’t the cause of the problems, something else may be, and a doctor’s evaluation can help you and your family get back to a restful sleep you need.

How can a Dentist Treat Sleep Apnea?

So, you might be wondering, why would a dentist treat sleep apnea? It’s a logical question. Because of their unique skill sets, dentists have very effective tools with which to alleviate the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.

Dentists treat obstructive sleep apnea by constructing a mouthguard that can be worn during sleep. The customized mouthguard is designed to modify the patient’s mouth during sleep, adjusting the throat to reduce any obstructions to the airway. Such an oral appliance can be extremely effective at preventing the main cause of sleep apnea, making it possible for the patient to sleep uninterrupted.

Central sleep apnea appears to be a largely psychological problem. While dentists may not be able to treat central sleep apnea,  they have a  solution to obstructive sleep apnea that can be effective at reducing the symptoms of the problem.


To explore mouthguards as a potential solution to sleep apnea or to learn more about the sleep disorder, contact Dr. Mark Samuels at Lighthouse Dental in Stratford, Conn.  Dr. Samuels offers oral appliances of all kinds to his patients, and he is more than happy to discuss potential treatment options with you.
Call our office at (203) 742-1027 or fill out a form on the Make an Appointment page of our website to set up your diagnostic appointment today!

Office Hours

Monday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Tuesday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Wednesday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Thursday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Friday: 7:00 am - 4:00 pm
Saturday: 8:00 am - 1:00 pm

Our Location

Lighthouse Dental Care

88 Ryders Lane
Stratford, CT 06614

Phone: (203) 742-1027
Fax: (203) 380-8390