Sleep Apnea Specialist

Legacy Dental Care

Cosmetic, Family and General Dentistry located in Woodbridge, VA

If you snore through the night, wake frequently, or never feel well-rested in the morning, you may have sleep apnea, a common disorder that causes momentary pauses in respiration and disrupts your sleep cycle. Sleep apnea specialist Sowmya Punaji, DDS, of Legacy Dental Care can help diagnose this potentially serious condition and provide effective treatment solutions to prevent complications. Call her Woodbridge, Virginia, office today.

Sleep Apnea Q & A

What is sleep apnea? 

Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes repeated pauses in respiration while you sleep. Each time your brain registers the lack of oxygen during this cycle, it stimulates respiration and causes a partial awakening. There are two main types of sleep apnea:

Obstructive sleep apnea

As the most common form of the disorder, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the soft tissues in your throat sag or collapse and block your airway.

Central sleep apnea

Central sleep apnea (CSA) is the result of improper or delayed brain signaling to the muscles that control respiration.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea? 

Although loud, chronic snoring is the most common sign of OSA, you don’t have to snore at all to be affected by sleep apnea. Other symptoms include:

  • Sudden awakenings throughout the night
  • Awakenings that occur with breathlessness
  • Waking often during the night to urinate
  • Dry mouth, sore throat, or headache upon waking
  • Frequent daytime sleepiness or irritability

Although repeated breathing pauses during sleep is another sign of sleep apnea, this symptom usually remains unknown unless it’s observed by a sleep partner.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

If you experience symptoms that may be related to sleep apnea, Dr. Punaji can go over your medical history, assess your risk factors, and perform a visual exam of your upper airway, neck, jaw, and tongue to look for the kinds of structural issues that often give rise to the condition.

If she spots possible signs of sleep apnea, you need to undergo sleep testing to detect apnea events and diagnose the type and severity of your disorder. 

Why is it important to treat sleep apnea?

Besides making you sleepy during the day and increasing your accident risk while driving, at home, and in the workplace, the chronic loss of restorative sleep associated with sleep apnea leaves you more vulnerable to serious health problems: 

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
  • Heart attack and stroke 
  • Insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease

To keep your airway open, reduce your risk of apnea-related complications, and put an end to chronic snoring, Dr. Punaji may prescribe a custom oral appliance designed to help your airway stay open.

If your sleep apnea is severe, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) can be an ideal solution. The CPAP device delivers air pressure through a nasal mask to keep your airway open as you sleep.

To learn more about the importance of treating sleep apnea, call Legacy Dental Care today.