Snoring & Sleep Apnea Chapel Hill, NC

Our Snoring and Sleep Apnea Solutions

Snoring and sleep apnea are two of the most common sleep disorders. The position of the jaw and related structures influence the development of sleep apnea. Not many people would even consider seeking a dentist for treatment. However, a dentist is a key professional in diagnosing and treating selective cases. Chapel Hill Family and Cosmetic Dentistry dentists have experience treating sleep apnea in Chapel Hill, NC, using oral appliances.

Snoring by itself is generally not a health problem. However, it can indicate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Patients who suffer from OSA repeatedly stop breathing while they sleep. The prevalence of sleep apnea increases with age. As many as 50% of older men and women suffer from the disorder.

OSA occurs when a person stops breathing due to an obstruction in the upper airway. This is caused when the muscles in the back of the throat completely relax, and air cannot pass through.

Once this happens, signals that breathing has stopped are sent to the brain. The person will make up momentarily to open the airway back up. Breathing stops for about ten seconds or longer during a single episode, but a person can have many episodes during sleep.


Dangers of Sleep Apnea infographic

Signs & Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

When you visit Dr. Furgurson or Dr. White, they will review your medical history. They will also discuss some signs that could indicate a sleep-breathing disorder. Common signs of sleep apnea include:

  • Daytime sleepiness 
  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping while sleeping
  • Dry mouth
  • Morning headaches
  • Problems with concentration, mood, and mental clarity

Sleep apnea not only impacts your sleep. If you have sleep apnea, you can experience problems during the day. Some patients with sleep apnea have the tendency to fall asleep while reading, watching television, or driving.

A lack of quality sleep can be dangerous. If you or your partner notice insomnia, snoring, and breathing problems during sleep, contact a doctor for a sleep study.

Diagnosing a Sleep-Related Breathing Disorder

Diagnosing a sleep-related breathing disorder such as OSA typically involves the dentist, the patient’s physician, and/or other specialists. We may use diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays, to examine the airway and look for signs of blockage. Our dental office will also recommend a sleep study to evaluate your sleep quality.

Doctors provide at-home and in-office sleep studies. These studies analyze the number of apneas you experience at night. They can also measure your heart rate, oxygen levels, and leg and arm movements. Once you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, our dentist office can help treat mild to moderate sleep apnea.

Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Chapel Hill, NC

Treatment for OSA will vary based on individual diagnosis. Certain lifestyle changes can help reduce the symptoms of OSA. Sometimes, weight loss, smoking cessation, and eliminating alcohol and sedative use can help.

The CPAP is the gold standard treatment for sleep apnea. However, CPAPs often have a poor compliance level because people often find them to be uncomfortable and intrusive while sleeping. A CPAP covers the face with a mask and delivers air through the nose and/or mouth.

An oral appliance is the preferred treatment among most patients. An oral appliance is small, discreet, and comfortable to wear. Dr. Furgurson can fabricate a custom-made sleep apnea appliance for sleep apnea in Durham, NC. This appliance is similar to a sports mouthguard. However, this appliance can help ensure you can sleep comfortably. 

An oral appliance keeps the airway open to allow for proper airflow. It can also reposition the jaw and tongue in a forward position. This way, the soft tissues do not obstruct the airway. You can experience a full night’s sleep and feel well-rested if worn properly and regularly.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea FAQs

Learn more about sleep apnea in our Durham office with answers to common patient questions:

How do I know if I have sleep apnea or just snoring issues?

Patients with sleep apnea physically stop breathing for anywhere between a few seconds to minutes while sleeping. After pauses in breathing, patients may gasp for air. A cause of snoring is blocked airways. However, it does not prevent breathing.

What is the best position to sleep if you have sleep apnea?

The best position to sleep with sleep apnea is on your right side, with your head slightly up. This encourages air and blood flow and aligns your esophagus to relax muscles.

How do you get rid of sleep apnea snoring?

The most common way to get rid of sleep apnea snoring is to wear a CPAP machine. CPAP helps air make its way to the lungs through a pressurized mask and helps prevent snoring caused by sleep apnea. Your dentist can also provide a custom oral appliance as an alternative to the CPAP machine. This appliance is noiseless, portable, and often more comfortable than a CPAP.

What foods cause sleep apnea?

Patients with sleep apnea should avoid eating bananas, dairy, alcohol, and fatty meats. These foods may produce excess mucus in the body, blocking airflow. Patients with sleep apnea are all advised to eat their last meal at least 2 hours before bed. This ensures that their body has time to digest before sleep.

What can untreated sleep apnea cause?

If sleep apnea goes untreated, it can cause various health issues. These include heart failure, heart attacks, diabetes, and strokes. If you are suffering from sleep apnea, call our office today to schedule a consultation. We can help you!

How many apneas per hour is severe?

The average patient with sleep apnea suffers from ten to fifteen apneas per hour. However, patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea may experience over 30 apneas per hour. The number of apneas a patient may have per hour is classified and dependent on severity.

Schedule a Restorative Consultation

Dr. Furgurson has your solution for sleep apnea in Durham, NC, and Chapel Hill. Our comprehensive treatments have helped alleviate many sleep apnea symptoms for patients in Durham County and surrounding areas. Give us a call to schedule a restorative consultation today.