What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is when your breathing stops at night, forcing your brain to wake up just enough to start breathing again. This can happen hundreds of times a night, although you might not realize it because you never reach full consciousness. Still, you wake up enough to disrupt your sleep. Plus, these wakings interfere with hormone function and strain your heart.

There are two types: obstructive and central. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), is the most common form, accounting for about 98% of cases, according to some estimates. In OSA, your airway collapses, cutting off your air supply. In central, your brain stops telling your body to breathe. It is possible to have both forms.

Rochester Hills sleep dentist Dr. Wolfe offers treatment for OSA.


There is only one way to definitively diagnose sleep apnea: a sleep study. In the past, all sleep studies were done in a lab. Now, most insurance companies recommend a sleep study that you can take at home in the comfort of your own bed.

Unfortunately, your doctor might not think to recommend a sleep study. You should seek a sleep study if you experience symptoms like:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Lack of concentration, focus, or drive
  • Morning headaches
  • Waking up tired no matter how much sleep you get
  • Dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up
  • Moodiness or irritability
  • Memory problems
  • Weight gain or inability to lose weight
  • High blood pressure that doesn’t respond to medication

In addition, people who have been diagnosed with related medical conditions (more below) should seek a sleep study.

Rochester Hills sleep dentist Dr. Wolfe can help you get a sleep study to determine whether you have sleep apnea or not.

Dangers of Sleep Apnea

This is a potentially deadly condition. In fact, people with sleep apnea are up to six times more likely to die in the next five years than other people their age. That’s because it has been linked to numerous health conditions, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Memory problems
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • Dementia
  • Cancer

These risks persist as long as your sleep apnea goes untreated. However, with treatment, these risks can rapidly diminish. In just a few months, you can see dramatic improvement in your health.

Treatment Options

The most common sleep apnea treatment is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This treatment uses a pump, hose, and mask to force air down your throat to keep your airway open. Theoretically, CPAP is 100% effective. However, many people don’t adapt to this treatment. They don’t use it often enough or for long enough each night, which means they essentially are left untreated.

Rochester Hills sleep dentist Dr. Wolfe offers oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea. In oral appliance therapy, you wear an appliance like a mouth guard that holds your jaw in a healthy position to keep your airway open. In practical terms, it’s at least as effective as CPAP, and a great alternative when someone doesn’t want to use CPAP.

Surgery can sometimes help; however, increases surgical risks and results are uneven, it’s not usually recommended as a standalone treatment.

Think You Might Have Sleep Apnea in Rochester Hills?

If you think that you might have sleep apnea, it’s important to get tested and start treatment as soon as possible. Please call (248) 651-0897 today for an appointment with sleep dentist Dr. Matthew Wolfe at Signature Dentistry of Rochester in Rochester Hills.