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Can a Dentist Diagnose Sleep Apnea?

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Have you ever woken up from a deep sleep feeling as if you’re choking or gasping for air? This can be a scary situation that you might even brush off as a bad dream. 

Even if it only happens once in a while, it’s worth your time to look into the symptoms of sleep apnea. You might be surprised to learn that your dentist will be able to provide you with guidance on the warning signs. 

Although they can’t provide a formal diagnosis of sleep apnea, dentists are often the first to discover the condition and can offer additional advice and possibly start treatment.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a significant disorder where your breathing stops multiple times throughout the night while you sleep. These breathing pauses, known as “apneas,” often last 10 to 30 seconds.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the upper airway becomes blocked while you are asleep and is the most prevalent type of sleep apnea. The soft tissue in the back of the throat frequently closes and compresses while you sleep, causing an obstruction. 

The airway can also be blocked by relaxed throat muscles, a small airway, a large tongue, or excess fatty tissue in the throat.

Central Apnea

Central sleep apnea occurs because your brain fails to communicate with the breathing muscles properly. Compared to obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea is less common.

Mixed Apnea

Mixed sleep apnea as the name suggests is a mix of both obstructive and central apnea. It will begin as central apnea and end with obstructive apnea. 

Recognizing the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can be difficult to self-diagnose as most of the symptoms occur while you’re fast asleep. However, there are some signs that you may be able to notice that can help indicate you may be suffering from sleep apnea such as:

  • Choking or gasping for air while asleep or when waking up
  • Waking up with a sore or dry throat
  • Tiredness or irritability during the day
  • Trouble concentrating throughout the day
  • Diminished libido
  • Headaches
  • Loud snoring followed by quiet pauses

While these symptoms can, unfortunately, be brushed off by a lot of people. There are some symptoms that your dentist can take note of during your regular visits.


The term bruxism describes the act of clenching and grinding your teeth when awake or while you are asleep. This habit can result in worn-down teeth. 

Considering that nearly one-fourth of patients who have sleep apnea grind their teeth at night, worn-down teeth could be an indication that you are suffering from the disorder.

Additionally, teeth grinding and clenching can result in more severe issues like irritated and receding gums, as well as bacterial growth that can cause cavities, gingivitis, periodontal disease, and even tooth loss.

Other indications of sleep apnea that your dentist can indicate include a tongue with scalloped edges, or redness in the throat (caused by snoring, another symptom).

A man sleeping with a CPAP machine on to treat sleep apnea

How Can My Dentist Help Me Treat Sleep Apnea?

You might think that it’s not something to be concerned about, but is important not to underestimate this serious disorder. The frequent episodes of not breathing through the night have a significant impact on your brain, and can even shorten your lifespan. 

Sleep apnea has major health consequences if left untreated. Untreated, it can result in:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Work-related injuries

Fortunately, there are treatment solutions for you. 


Some dentists may recommend you see a sleep specialist for a diagnosis for a  CPAP machine. Continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP), is a common sleep apnea treatment. 

A humidifier, mask, tubing, and therapy device are typical components of this therapy system. For use during the night, this equipment creates a controlled flow of pressurized air. Your upper airway passageways are kept open by the steady flow of air, which creates just the right amount of pressure to stop apnea and snoring.

Some patients complain that the devices are difficult to wear while they try to fall asleep, and they frequently wake up exhausted after a restless night. Many people who attempt to use a CPAP give up after getting annoyed with it. 

Customized Sleep Apnea Solutions in Calgary SE

Dr. Jay Patel at Outdoor Dental believes that you should not have to give up comfort to successfully treat your sleep apnea. Dr. Patel takes a customized approach to finding solutions for our sleep apnea diagnosis. 

He can identify each form of sleep apnea and choose the best course of action for each patient. Dr. Patel offers specialized dental appliances that treat snoring and sleep apnea, which are an equally  effective alternative to some doctors’ recommendations that patients utilize CPAP machines.

After confirming your diagnosis of sleep apnea, Dr. Patel will evaluate the results and decide whether an oral appliance will be effective for you. He can order an appliance that is specially made to fit your mouth using a digital scan. 

Dr. Patel has had specialized training in sleep solutions, including Zephyr Sleep Technologies and Vivos, to treat patients.  These oral appliance therapies available at Outdoor Dental are:

  • Efficient
  • Practical
  • Comfortable substitutes for CPAPs.

Vivos Technology

One alternative to the CPAP machine that Dr. Patel utilizes is Vivos® Sleep DNA (Daytime Nighttime Appliance) appliances.

Oral appliances are quiet, easy to use, and portable. They are excellent at treating snoring and sleep apnea, are comfortable to wear, and are tailored to fit your mouth.  They work by expanding the airway by slightly moving the lower jaw forward and downward.

A rising number of dentists and doctors with specialized training offer the Vivos System to their patients each month. Additionally, an increasing number of patients finish their Vivos System treatment with a revitalized sense of wellness and vigour as a result of restorative sleep.

Once you start using your new appliance, you can sleep better and wake up feeling rejuvenated. Book an appointment to find the best fit for you today at Outdoor Dental.

Jay Patel

Written by
Dr. Jay Patel

Dr. Patel aims to provide Calgarians with comprehensive oral health care and preventive dental care focused on improving overall well-being. This shows in Dr. Patel’s focus on preventing diseases and achieving effective dental results through patient education and the use of advanced dental technology.

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Dr. Jay Patel

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