What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea Treatment Available in Chicago & Skokie

Sleep apnea is a disorder where a patient temporarily stops breathing throughout the night. It can happen hundreds of times, and it can cause a multitude of both short and long-term problems. Despite the massive stress it puts on the body, many patients can sleep right through it. There are two main types of sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea (CSA) occurs when a patient’s brain simply stops sending the signals to the body to breathe at night. The more common form, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), happens when a patient’s airway becomes blocked by tissues in the throat or their tongue. Many patients even suffer from a combination of the two. Both forms have a wide variety of symptoms, which is why most cases go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years (about 80% actually). There are a few common signs, however, and they are:

  • Consistent loud snoring
  • Waking up suddenly gasping for air
  • Morning headaches
  • Dry mouth or sore throat in the morning
  • Persistent daytime fatigue
  • Trouble focusing throughout the day
  • Memory loss
  • Mood swings/depression


The first step to treating sleep apnea is to get a proper diagnosis to determine if a person actually has the condition. Dental Professionals recommend that people who think they may be suffering from the disorder take our short but effective STOP-BANG Assessment. It only involves 8 yes or no questions and provides us vital information. Using the assessment, we’ll be able to recommend the next step in the process, which may involve visiting a sleep clinic to have a sleep study performed. After that, we can almost immediately help you get the treatment you need.

For patients suffering from OSA, we’ll be able to use an approach called oral appliance therapy. This is the primary solution recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for both snoring and OSA. If a patient has more severe OSA or CSA, CPAP therapy or combined therapy (CPAP with an oral appliance) can provide the solution they need.


  1. If an adult gets 7-8 hours of sleep each night, they should not feel tired or fatigued throughout the day.
  2. Patients with sleep apnea are more likely to be obese, have trouble losing weight, and struggle to keep it off once it has been lost.
  3. Sleep apnea and sleep deprivation can hinder memory just like alcoholism, drug addiction, and even Alzheimer’s.
  4. Many patients who believe they can’t stay asleep due to insomnia are actually being awoken by the breathing interruptions related to sleep apnea.
  5. Snoring is the most common symptom associated with sleep apnea. Even if you have not been diagnosed, snoring still puts you at a higher risk of developing a sleep disorder in the future. With oral appliance therapy, you can treat your snoring and avoid future health risks such as cardiovascular problems, acid reflux, stroke, depression, and other cognitive disorders.
  6. Driving tired is actually more dangerous than driving drunk! People who are regularly sleep-deprived are 15 times more likely to get into a motor vehicle accident than someone who is rested and sober.
  7. Almost 80% of everyone suffering from sleep apnea is either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. This sadly means most people with the disorder are going untreated.
  8. Untreated sleep apnea can have a dramatic effect on a person’s overall lifespan. In fact, most patients with completely untreated sleep apnea do not live past 55 years of age.
  9. Sleep apnea is actually one of the most common causes of sexual and erectile dysfunction.
  10. If you get up frequently during the night to go to the bathroom, it could also be a symptom of undiagnosed sleep apnea.
  11. Teeth grinding, or bruxism could also be an indicator of sleep apnea.
  12. A patient with a large tongue or thick neck is at a greater risk of developing sleep apnea.


Loud, consistent snoring is one of the most prominent symptoms of sleep apnea. Snoring occurs when the air we breathe causes the tissues in the throat to vibrate. This is the same way sounds like speech, laughter, and singing are created. While snoring does not always indicate that a person has sleep apnea, it does often mean they are not getting the most restful sleep they can because their breathing is being constricted. This obstruction can actually lead to health risks on its own such as elevated blood pressure, heart disease, and several other mental/physical problems.

Fortunately, snoring treatments are available using oral appliance therapy. It is an easy way to help alleviate a very common problem, and it is especially useful for people who snore and have a bed partner.


A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is the most commonly recommended treatment for a person suffering from sleep apnea. While it is ideal for patients with severe OSA symptoms and CSA, it can cause many problems for those with mild sleep apnea. The machine works by forcing air into the throat throughout the night using an air pump, and this is often very uncomfortable for patients. It requires them to wear a full face mask, and this is very constricting and even makes some patients feel claustrophobic. Also, the noise generated by the machine can make it very difficult for a person to fall asleep as well. These problems are why about 50% of people prescribed to use a CPAP stop within the first year.

Thankfully, Dr. David Schwartz and our team at Dental Professionals have an effective alternative: oral appliance therapy. Our oral appliances are custom made for each patient so they offer the best in both comfort and treatment. They are small, easy to use, and have been shown to dramatically increase the sleep quality of those who wear them consistently.


Often, a patient will be able to use their medical insurance to help pay for their sleep apnea treatment with oral appliance therapy. In recent years, this kind of coverage has also become part of many dental insurance plans. Our team will always work directly with your provider to help you get the most out of your coverage. If you have any questions about how you can use your insurance with us, be sure to contact our Chicago, IL, or Skokie, IL office today. We’re also able to serve patients in the Evanston, Chicago, Wilmette, and Cook County areas.


A good night’s sleep is essential for your health, and Dr. Schwartz is here to make sure you get the most out of your all-important rest. If you have questions about your sleep apnea or are unsure whether a particular treatment is right for you, let us know; we can give you the facts you need to make good decisions. For your consideration, we’ve listed below some of the most frequently asked sleep apnea questions we’ve received.


Some people have a higher risk for sleep disorders than others. For example, people who are overweight tend to have greater difficulty breathing at night because there’s a greater amount of tissue around the throat that can fall back and block the airway. Also, older adults and men, in general, are more likely to develop sleep apnea than children and women. But it’s important to remember that having a lower risk does not mean you’re immune. Virtually anyone can suffer from a sleep disorder under the right circumstances. You need to be able to recognize potential warning signs so that you can call Dr. Schwartz when necessary.


Most cases of sleep apnea (though not all of them) are characterized by snoring. That said, even if you do snore on a regular basis, it may not mean you have a sleep disorder. The snoring produced by sleep apnea tends to be louder than normal, and your bed partner might notice that it’s accompanied by periodically gasping for air.

While some people think snoring is just a part of aging, the health risks posed by sleep apnea are too severe to ignore. In other words, you shouldn’t be taking any chances when it comes to the quality of your rest. If you snore, get in touch with us to ask about having possible sleep apnea diagnosed.


Whenever your breathing is interrupted during slumber, the brain is forced to wake you up. As such, you’ll be awakened frequently if you have sleep apnea. But despite what you might think, you won’t necessarily have any idea this is happening. Each awakening is slight and brief, so you may not even remember it happening. Despite this, your sleep pattern will still be interrupted so that you get very little (if any) of the deep sleep or REM sleep that you need to stay alert and energetic.


Using an oral appliance to treat your sleep apnea is an extremely safe process. Each device is customized so that it fits perfectly on your teeth; this keeps unexpected side effects to a minimum. At first, you might notice that you’re producing more saliva than usual, or you might experience discomfort in your jaw and/or tooth. However, such side effects will typically be very minor. They should go away in time if you wear your appliance every night and give your mouth time to adjust.

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