Sleep ApneaSleep apnea is not just a hassle that keeps you from getting enough sleep. It is actually a serious condition.

That’s because, if you have sleep apnea, then you actually stop breathing as much as hundreds of times each and every night.

As a result, your body is not getting enough oxygen, and that can be damaging.

There are actually two different types of the condition, including obstructive sleep apnea due to something blocking the airway when you sleep, and central sleep apnea, which is due to the brain not sending signals to your body and muscles to breathe.

People who have this condition are at risk for severe side effects. These include lack of sleep, of course, high blood pressure, heart damage, diabetes, stroke, headaches, heart attack, and depression.

At Rockville Dental Arts, our dentists will discuss the two different options we offer for resolving sleep apnea: TAP and SomnoMed.


Treating Sleep Apnea


Stop us if this sounds familiar: You wake up tired no matter how early you go to bed or late you sleep in. Your loved ones have frequently mentioned your loud snoring, and you find yourself experiencing extreme daytime sleepiness throughout the week.


If this feels all too similar to your day-to-day experiences, then you might just have sleep apnea. The good news is that you’re not alone: It’s estimated that over 18 million Americans have symptoms of sleep apnea, with many being undiagnosed and untreated, as reported by the Sleep Foundation. The better news is that with the right treatment plan, you can reduce your symptoms and peacefully be counting sheep in no time. 


Read on to learn about your options for treating sleep apnea as well as how the certified experts at Rockville Dental Arts can help you on your journey to a longer and more well-rested life.


Understanding Sleep Apnea


Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The first step to successfully treating sleep apnea is identifying which type you may be suffering from: Obstructive or Central. In both instances, patients’ breathing will stop and start as they sleep, which is the main culprit behind the loud snoring and lack of rest you’re experiencing. However, the physiological causes between the two vary:


Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Typically, air is able to freely flow from the mouth and nose into the lungs. However, for those suffering from OSA, this is far from the case.


For patients who have OSA, the upper airway becomes partially or completely blocked in their sleep. This blockage overworks the chest muscles and diaphragm, forcing your body to work harder in an effort to open up your airway and get air into your lungs.


One of the most common misconceptions surrounding OSA is that it can only happen to certain people. Although men, older patients and those who are overweight are at a higher risk of suffering from this condition, it can truly affect anyone who has a more constricted upper airway. Some common risk factors may include: 


  • A family history of apnea or snoring.
  • Swollen tonsils or adenoids.
  • A narrow soft palate.
  • Fat deposits around the upper airway.
  • Retrognathia, in which a patient’s lower jaw is shorter than their upper jaw.


The majority of patients who are diagnosed with sleep apnea will find that their condition stems from OSA.


Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)

Like OSA, those who suffer from CSA experience repeated lapses in their breathing. However, unlike OSA, there is no physical blockage preventing air from flowing through to your lungs. 


CSA occurs when the brain fails to signal to the muscles that control breathing, often as a result of other serious health conditions such as a stroke or heart failure. Other potential causes can include narcotics-induced sleeping as a well as exposure to a high altitude. 


While it’s less common than OSA, CSA serves as a strong indicator that there is a severe underlying condition impacting a patient’s overall health. Getting a professional diagnosis to determine which type of sleep apnea you have and how mild or severe your condition is will be critical to getting the best treatment plan possible. 


Symptoms and Risks


One of the most common misconceptions surrounding sleep apnea is that it’s just a more noticeable form of snoring. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. 


When you snore, the sound being emitted is caused by a vibration created by airway resistance. Although both snoring and sleep apnea can disturb your own rest as well as your family’s, even a mild case of sleep apnea can lead to very serious consequences.


Some of the most widely reported symptoms of sleep apnea can be considered more of a mild inconvenience than a potential threat to your life.  These can include excessive daytime sleepiness, mild headaches, an inability to focus and occasional bouts of moodiness. If you have sleep apnea, your breathing can stop for 10 to 30 seconds during each apnea attack. This can happen hundreds of times in just one night, leaving you exhausted in the morning after. 


Those who chronically suffer from severe sleep apnea may also be at risk of: 


  • High blood pressure: Your body can be put under an enormous amount of stress as your breathing stops and starts throughout the night, raising your overall blood pressure levels. This can be especially dangerous for those who already suffer from high blood pressure.heart disease


  • Heart disease: Both forms of sleep apnea disrupt how your body takes in oxygen. This makes it hard for your brain to control how blood flows in your arteries and the brain itself, putting you at a higher risk of a heart attack.


  • Depression: For those who have been suffering from severe sleep apnea for an extended amount of time, the lack of proper sleep can lead to depression and can also often worsen the condition for those who already have it.


In addition to these illnesses, many patients with severe sleep apnea are also eventually diagnosed with Type II diabetes. Although the cause is not completely clear, a lack of sleep does make it more difficult to maintain a healthy diet and a standard level of metabolic activity.


Regardless of which type you have, undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea symptoms can lead to serious cardiovascular diseases and potentially life threatening risks. With that in mind, if you believe you may be experiencing a symptom of severe OSA or CSA, it’s crucial to get a professional diagnosis. 


Getting Diagnosed with Sleep Apnea


If you have reason to believe that you may have sleep apnea, it’s important to talk to a dentist as soon as possible. There are too many negative side effects to put your concerns to the wayside.


Your dentist will start by assessing your symptoms and any risk factor — or factors — that you may have. From there, you’ll be referred to a sleep specialist to help determine the best course of action. Usually, patients will need to undergo a sleep study in which their breathing and other body functions are monitored overnight. Your sleep specialist will work with you to determine: 


  1. Whether you have sleep apnea.
  2. How severe your case and symptoms are.
  3. If you have OSA or CSA.


In order to determine all of this, your specialist will likely use one of two tests:


  • Nocturnal polysomnography: During this study, you’ll need to spend the night at a sleep center, allowing your specialist to monitor your heart, lung and brain activity as well as any abnormal breathing patterns, movement or changes in your blood oxygen levels.
  • Home sleep tests: Like the name implies, this simplified test can be done at home and usually only measures your heart rate, airflow, breathing patterns and blood oxygen level.


One important consideration to keep in mind is that you may be diagnosed with hypopnea following your sleep study. Although the two conditions are closely related, there is a slight and important difference: During an apnea-related event, a patient will stop breathing entirely rather than only breathing shallowly like they do during a hypopnea attack. For many patients, the good news is that hypopnea can be entirely eliminated through either lifestyle changes or minor medical treatments. 


Unlike hypopnea, sleep apnea cannot be treated through lifestyle changes alone. While the symptoms of OAS can be managed to the point that they are unnoticeable, for many people the only permanent solution is the surgical removal of excess tissue from the soft palate or throat. Although it’s minimally invasive, this procedure may not be viable for all patients.


Once you are officially diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, the team at Rockville Dental Arts is here to help you.


Getting the Right Treatment


No one patient’s experience with sleep apnea is the same. While some may view the condition as a mildly inconvenient set of symptoms, for others it may be severely detrimental to their quality of life. Fortunately, there are several treatments available to minimize the impact sleep apnea has on you and your loved ones.


At Rockville Dental Arts, our dentists will discuss the two different options we offer for resolving sleep apnea: TAP® and SomnoMed®.


For mild cases of sleep apnea, a TAP® system or SomnoMed® will often make the most sense. Instead of a mask-like Continuous Positive Air Pressure machine, both oral appliances fit more like a retainer or a mouth guard you see athletes wearing during a game.




TAP appliance

The Thornton Adjustable Positioner (TAP) is an adjustable and customizable system that can be used to resolve a variety of problems including sleep apnea, teeth grinding, GERD and snoring. It works by managing the upper airway, so it’s best used when applied to OSA cases.


The tap system uses a midline tension mechanism, which actively pulls your jaw forward and ensures your airway is clear while you sleep. Some of the benefits of using a TAP® appliance to treat sleep apnea include:


  • Convenient for travel due to its lightweight nature. 
  • More comfortable as its custom fit and doesn’t require masks or straps. 
  • Can easily be adjusted at home to maximum treatment results.


Every patient’s TAP system is custom-made from a mold of their own mouth. This helps to ensure that the dental appliance is comfortable and doesn’t risk moving the teeth or structures of the mouth out of position. Plus, in many cases, a TAP device can also stand in place of a CPAP machine.




Our second option that your dentist will discuss with you is called SomnoMed. SOMNOMED


This is another solution for obstructive sleep apnea, which includes the use of a comfortable mouthpiece to ensure the jaw is properly aligned to avoid airway obstruction. SomnoMed actually offers a selection of different solutions using COAT, also known as continuous open airway therapy. 


Both devices can also be combined with CPAP therapy, which will provide an additional flow of oxygen to the patient during their sleep. By pairing either appliance with a CPAP machine for combination therapy, patients can enjoy simpler mask fitting and reduced CPAP pressure. Plus, both options provide a more compact alternative treatment for travelling compared to your standard CPAP device.


Depending on the severity of your symptoms and the cause of blockage in your upper airway, your dentist will work with you to identify the right breathing device for your needs


What to Expect


obstructive sleep apneaIf you have reason to believe that you may have this condition, then it is important to talk to a dentist as soon as possible. There are too many negative side effects to ignore this concern.

Likely, you will need to take part in a sleep study. This is done to evaluate your condition, determine if it is sleep apnea, figure out how severe it is, and then determine what type of sleep apnea you have.

If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, then we are here to help you. After this has been diagnosed, then your dentist here at Rockville Dental Arts will discuss you options with you including the TAP and SomnoMed systems. Depending on the severity of your condition, one may be preferred over the other.


Get Started On Your Path to Better Sleep


We all know the feeling of a rough night’s sleep — let alone the experience of living with it day in and day out. For those who suffer from sleep apnea, the condition doesn’t need to be a lifelong sentence to restless nights and fatigued days. With proper treatment and gradual lifestyle changes, you can get back to feeling like yourself again.


At Rockville Dental Arts, we’re here to help you get an answer when it comes to sleep apnea. sleep consultation


Our staff will provide you with a referral to a sleep disorder center and will also work with your medical insurance if your oral appliance is covered there rather than by your dental insurance provider. Once you’ve received your diagnosis, your dentist here at Rockville Dental Arts will walk you through your treatment options.


If you would like to talk with our team at Rockville Dental Arts about your sleep apnea concerns, call 301-424-2030 and book an appointment  today, or fill out our contact form. We’ll be able to schedule your evaluation with our expert dentists and discuss the treatment plan that makes the most sense for your unique case. 



Giovany Ortiz
Giovany Ortiz
February 9, 2022.
Excelente servicio médico y atención.
Robert Worrest
Robert Worrest
January 31, 2022.
Great service and friendly staff.
Luisa Borda
Luisa Borda
January 27, 2022.
Got seen super quick as a new patient. Staff was great and our visit was quick and convenient.
Chang Yu Dennis Lin
Chang Yu Dennis Lin
January 27, 2022.
My cleaning was fast and excellent Jackie is very good at her job. Shannon was also good and accommodating to my needs for the next appointment
Matt Hughes
Matt Hughes
January 25, 2022.
Absolutely amazing people..And the service was outstanding..I highly recommend
January 25, 2022.
Having severe dental anxiety I was skeptical and hesitant to have my remaining wisdom teeth removed. But when the overcrowding in my mouth became painful I knew it was time. From first contact through my appointment the staff was extremely responsive and helpful and while visiting any dentistry isn’t always the most pleasant experience, everyone I met was extremely kind and professional helping me to get through my procedure with ease and very little discomfort.
dide summerlin
dide summerlin
January 23, 2022.
The staff and the service are top notch. They are professional, caring and friendly. Love everything about this practice!
Hooper Nichols
Hooper Nichols
January 18, 2022.
Efficient, caring service. Highly recommended

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