So many times in American media, snoring has been depicted humorously: the sleeping antagonist snores loudly as the protagonist sneaks by, or an annoyed spouse covers her ears with a pillow. These scenes, and others like them, give the impression that snoring is simply a mild inconvenience.

The truth, however, couldn’t be farther from. Regular snoring can actually be a sign of sleep apnea, a dangerous disorder that is characterized by the number of pauses in breathing during sleep. Our body naturally pauses breathing between one to five times per hour, but anything above this is considered mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea, especially if the pauses last five seconds or more.

Without treatment, sleep apnea can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and death. If you’ve been accused of snoring or any of the other symptoms below, it’s likely that you have sleep apnea. And if you do have sleep apnea, it’s possible that Dr. Kuzma can help.

Why Snoring Isn’t Funny

Headaches or Migraines

Headaches, especially those that occur in the morning, can not only ruin your productivity but also be a sign of sleep apnea. This is because, during the night, sleep apnea can significantly alter your blood-oxygen levels, predisposing you to more headaches while your body normalizes itself.

Not only does sleep apnea affect your oxygen levels, but it can affect your quality of sleep as well, making your feel tired or groggy during the day, which can also trigger headaches.

Frequent Waking

Another common symptom of sleep apnea is commonly waking during the night. Often this could come in the form of suddenly waking with the feeling of needing to catch your breath, or the sensation of choking. These symptoms can often be frightening, making it difficult to fall back asleep and feel well rested the next day.

Jaw Pain

If you often wake with jaw pain or tooth sensitivity, this could be a sign of bruxism, or the inadvertent grinding of the teeth or jaws. When our bodies are under physical or mental duress caused by anxiety or conditions such as sleep apnea, bruxism can be a natural outlet. Another cause of jaw soreness is TMJ, a condition in which your jaw system isn’t functioning properly.

Sleep apnea should be diagnosed by a doctor, but a dentist can help treat the disorder. Because obstructive sleep apnea is caused by airflow blockages from the tongue, tonsils, or jaw position, special mouth guards can help clear airflow passages.

If you think you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or frequently experience jaw pain or tension headaches, we can help. To learn more about your treatment options in Wilmington, NC, please call (910) 392-6060 today for an appointment with sleep dentist Dr. Michael Kuzma at Kuzma Advanced Dentistry.