How does a sleep apnea problem occur?

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How does a sleep apnea problem occur?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep. These pauses can last for a few seconds to minutes and may occur multiple times throughout the night. The most common types of sleep apnea are:

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This is the most prevalent form of sleep apnea. It occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat relax excessively, leading to a partial or complete blockage of the airway.
  2. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): In this less common type, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe due to instability in the respiratory control center.
  3. Complex/Mixed Sleep Apnea: This is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Common symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, abrupt awakenings accompanied by a choking or gasping sound, restless sleep, daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and morning headaches. Often, individuals with sleep apnea are unaware of these episodes, and it is often a bed partner or family member who notices the symptoms.

Untreated sleep apnea can have significant health consequences, including an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and daytime fatigue that can lead to accidents. Diagnosis typically involves a sleep study (polysomnography) conducted in a sleep center.

Treatment options for sleep apnea include lifestyle changes (such as weight loss and positional therapy), continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, dental appliances, and in severe cases, surgery. It's important for individuals experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea to seek medical attention, as proper diagnosis and management can greatly improve quality of life and reduce associated health risks.


Dentists can play a role in managing sleep apnea, particularly in cases of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Here are some of the ways dentists may contribute to the treatment of sleep apnea:

  1. Oral Appliances: Dentists can design and fit custom-made oral appliances, also known as mandibular advancement devices (MADs) or dental devices. These devices are worn in the mouth during sleep and are designed to reposition the lower jaw and tongue to help keep the airway open. This can be an effective treatment for some individuals with mild to moderate OSA or for those who cannot tolerate continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.
  2. Mandibular Repositioning Devices (MRDs): These are a specific type of oral appliance that works by repositioning the lower jaw forward, helping to prevent the collapse of the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat.
  3. Orthodontic Approaches: In some cases, orthodontic treatments may be considered to address anatomical issues that contribute to sleep apnea, such as correcting malocclusions or abnormalities in jaw structure.


A mouthpiece, also known as an oral appliance or mandibular advancement device (MAD), can help prevent snoring by addressing the underlying causes of snoring, particularly when snoring is associated with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Here's how a mouthpiece can work to reduce or eliminate snoring:

  1. Repositioning the Jaw: Many snorers experience snoring because the muscles and tissues at the back of the throat relax excessively during sleep, leading to a partial blockage of the airway. A mouthpiece is designed to reposition the lower jaw and tongue slightly forward. By doing so, it helps prevent the collapse of the soft tissues at the back of the throat and keeps the airway open.
  2. Increasing Airway Space: The forward repositioning of the jaw created by the mouthpiece increases the space at the back of the throat. This helps reduce the likelihood of the tongue and soft tissues vibrating, which is the primary cause of the sound associated with snoring.
  3. Stabilizing the Jaw: The mouthpiece is custom-fitted to the individual's mouth, holding the lower jaw in a forward position. This helps maintain the openness of the airway throughout the night.

It's important to note that while mouthpieces can be effective for reducing snoring and managing mild to moderate sleep apnea, they might not be suitable for everyone. Additionally, they may not be as effective as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which is a common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea.

If you or someone you know is experiencing snoring or signs of sleep apnea, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional or a sleep specialist. A thorough evaluation, often involving a sleep study, can help determine the severity of the condition and the most appropriate treatment approach. Additionally, a dentist specializing in sleep disorders can create a custom-fitted mouthpiece tailored to an individual's specific needs and anatomy.


The choice between a sleep apnea mouthpiece (also known as an oral appliance or mandibular advancement device) and a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine depends on individual preferences, the severity of sleep apnea, and personal comfort. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Comfort and Tolerance:
    • Mouthpiece: Many people find oral appliances more comfortable and easier to adapt to than CPAP machines. They are non-intrusive and do not require a mask or tubing. Patients who have difficulty tolerating CPAP therapy often prefer the simplicity and comfort of a mouthpiece.
    • CPAP Machine: Some individuals may find wearing a mask and dealing with the forced air pressure from a CPAP machine uncomfortable, particularly in the initial adjustment period.
  2. Ease of Use:
    • Mouthpiece: Oral appliances are simple to use and require no electricity or external devices. They are easy to clean and travel with, making them a convenient option.
    • CPAP Machine: CPAP machines involve more components, including the machine itself, tubing, and a mask. They need a power source and may be less convenient for travel.
  3. Effectiveness:
    • Mouthpiece: Oral appliances are generally recommended for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. They work by repositioning the jaw to keep the airway open during sleep. While effective for many, they may not be as consistently effective as CPAP for severe cases.
    • CPAP Machine: CPAP is often considered the gold standard for treating sleep apnea, especially for moderate to severe cases. It delivers a constant stream of air to keep the airway open, preventing interruptions in breathing.
  4. Compliance:
    • Mouthpiece: Some individuals may find it easier to comply with using an oral appliance consistently, as it doesn't involve complex equipment.
    • CPAP Machine: Compliance with CPAP therapy can be challenging for some people due to the need to wear a mask and deal with the noise and sensation of pressurized air.

It's crucial to note that the effectiveness of treatment can vary from person to person. The choice between a mouthpiece and a CPAP machine should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional


The cost of a dental device for sleep apnea in Canada can vary based on several factors, including the type of device, the specific design and features, and the dentist or sleep specialist providing the treatment. Additionally, costs may vary between provinces and cities. As of my knowledge cutoff in January 2022, I don't have specific and up-to-date pricing information.

Generally, the cost of a custom-fitted oral appliance for sleep apnea can range from a few hundred to over a thousand Canadian dollars. Some factors that can influence the cost include:

  1. Type of Device: Different oral appliances may have varying features and mechanisms, and this can affect the cost.
  2. Dentist's Fees: The fees charged by dentists for consultations, evaluations, and the fitting of the device can vary.
  3. Follow-up Appointments: Some dental devices may require adjustments over time, and additional appointments may be necessary, which can contribute to the overall cost.
  4. Insurance Coverage: In some cases, dental insurance or medical insurance may cover a portion of the cost. It's advisable to check with your insurance provider to understand the coverage details.
  5. Geographic Location: The cost of healthcare services can vary between different regions in Canada.

To get the most accurate and up-to-date information, it's recommended to consult with a dentist. They can provide a personalized assessment, discuss the available options, and provide cost estimates based on your specific needs and circumstances.


If you are looking for a sleep apnea dentist near you it's advisable to schedule a consultation to discuss your specific situation, symptoms, and treatment options. During the consultation, the dentist can assess whether a dental device is a suitable option for your sleep apnea and provide more information about the treatment process.

e are a dental clinic in Kanata and near you to get the best suitable option for sleep apnea appliances. You can reach out to us at 613-519-1400. Dr. Taner and his professional team would be happy to help you.

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