Do I Have Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is typically thought of as an issue that a sleep specialist addresses, not a dentist. However, dentists, especially a cosmetic dentist in Jacksonville, offer treatments to combat this issue without the need for an uncomfortable mask and loud machine.

The first step to getting the help you require for sleep apnea is to determine that you have the issue. Once you recognize the signs, contact us at Smiles By Shields Dentistry.

Definition of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes breathing to be interrupted as you’re sleeping. Your breathing may stop and restart numerous times throughout the night.

Three main types of sleep apnea exist. These include obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax and interfere with your breathing. It’s the most common type and the variety that can benefit from dental care.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, happens when your brain doesn’t signal the muscles that control your breathing properly. This form isn’t treated by a dentist.

Complex Sleep Apnea

When you have complex sleep apnea, you have both forms of obstructive and central types simultaneously. As with central sleep apnea, dentists do not typically care for or manage complex sleep apnea either. You will need to see a sleep specialist.

Signs of Sleep Apnea

It’s important to assess how you feel, which can provide you with insight regarding whether you might have sleep apnea. For instance, you may feel irritable during the day. You might have difficulty focusing when you’re awake. You might also be excessively tired during the day. Additionally, you may notice that you often wake up with a dry mouth or a headache in the morning.

Besides how you feel during the day, you may also notice issues at night. For instance, you may wake up gasping for air when you stop breathing throughout the night. Sometimes, sleep apnea will cause insomnia. Particularly, you might not be able to stay asleep throughout the night after you fall asleep.

Your partner may also notice signs you have sleep apnea. For instance, sleep apnea causes many people to snore loudly. Additionally, you don’t always realize you’re waking up throughout the night because it’s so brief. You might not know you’re gasping for air throughout the night, either.

Assessing Different Risk Factors

When you’re trying to figure out if you should see a practitioner for a formal sleep apnea diagnosis, it may help to know the risk factors. You can then determine if your daytime sleepiness and irritability are related to sleep apnea. Here are some of the top risk factors associated with sleep apnea.

Excess Weight

For one, sleep apnea is more common if you’re overweight. When you have excess weight, fat can deposit around your airways and hinder your breathing. Neck circumference could also be a factor. For instance, people who have thicker necks usually have narrower airways. This makes them more prone to sleep apnea.


Some people have a genetic predisposition to having a narrow throat. Ultimately, this means that they’re more likely to have issues with their breathing. Children, for example, can have enlarged adenoids or tonsils that block their airways and disrupt breathing. This is especially the case since their necks are more narrow to begin with.

Being A Male

It’s more common for sleep apnea to occur in men than women. In fact, a male is between two and three times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than a woman. Women may increase their risk if they’re overweight. It also appears that a woman’s risk increases once she reaches menopause.


As you age, your risk for sleep apnea grows. Your likelihood also rises if you’re related to someone who has sleep apnea.


You increase your chances of developing sleep apnea if you’re a smoker. Research suggests that a smoker is about three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than a nonsmoker. This is because smoking may irritate your upper airway and cause fluid retention.

Health Conditions

Your overall health has an impact on whether you develop sleep apnea. For instance, people with certain health conditions tend to have the issue more often than people without specific circumstances. Examples of conditions that increase your risk include type II diabetes, congestive heart failure, and high blood pressure.

Contact Smiles By Shields for an Appointment

A cosmetic dentist in Jacksonville can do more than provide dental implants and teeth whitening. In fact, if you have signs of sleep apnea, you should contact our experts at Smiles By Shields Dentistry for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.


Contact us

Smiles by Shields
3940 San Jose Park Dr.
Jacksonville, FL 32217