How do I Know if I Have Sleep Apnea?

Do you constantly feel tired or like you’re dragging to get through the day? Has your partner or roommate told you that you snore loudly during the night? Are you noticing other health problems like weight gain or depression? You could be suffering from a form of sleep disordered breathing, such as obstructive sleep apnea.


Sleep Apnea Symptoms


Warning signs and symptoms of sleep apnea often include:

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Large neck circumference
  • Flat, worn teeth and dental work
  • Decreased libido
  • Sore throat
  • Snoring
  • Gasping or choking in your sleep


There’s not a number of symptoms to check off before ruling sleep apnea out of the question. Simply observing one or two of these warning signs could be enough to indicate a sleeping disorder. However, “knowing” whether or not you have a medical condition depends on a consultation and formal diagnosis with a licensed sleep medicine provider.


Types of Sleep Apnea

There’s more than one type of sleep apnea. Depending on which version of the sleeping disorder you have, the treatment for it will be different.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) — This is the most common type of sleep apnea. It’s caused by blockage of soft tissues in your upper airway. When muscles relax, the tissues close off the area near the back of your mouth. As a result, your body isn’t able to inhale or get the oxygen that it needs. This is the only type of sleep apnea that can be treated with an oral sleep appliance.


Central Sleep Apnea — This form of sleeping disorder occurs when your brain’s signals don’t properly control the muscles that are used for breathing.


Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome — A combination of OSA and central sleep apnea.



Who To See For A Sleep Apnea Consultation


Before you can get treated for sleep apnea, you’ll need to have the condition diagnosed by an appropriate healthcare provider. Traditionally, sleep medicine has always been overseen through medical referrals to pulmonologists or other physicians. However, modern medicine shows that your oral anatomy (specifically the soft tissues at the back of your mouth) can significantly contribute to certain types of sleeping disorders. Since physicians are not licensed to fit patients with oral sleep appliances, they often refer their patients to an oral sleep provider (sleep dentistry office) such as the team at Raleigh Dental Arts.

You can also call our sleep dentistry office in Raleigh for a consultation even if you’ve never seen a physician about your sleeping disorder. When you come straight to our office, we have our own network of experts who assist us in diagnosing, screening, and delivering oral sleep dentistry services.

Whether or not you already have a sleep doctor, we can help. We’ll work with your physician (or ours) to diagnose and dispense a home sleep test or oral appliance if appropriate. It’s convenient, affordable, and streamlined for our patients!


Types of Sleep Studies


The first step to finding out if you have clinical sleep apnea is to get a “sleep study.” You can think about it the same way your doctor needs lab work to make appropriate diagnoses. With a sleep study, the lab work is data that’s recorded while you’re sleeping. You will need a sleep study and formal diagnosis before you can receive a medical device (whether it’s an oral sleep appliance or a CPAP machine.) Typically, there are two types of sleep studies you can choose from:


Sleep Lab Studies — This type of sleep study is a traditional and comprehensive sleep assessment that’s performed inside of a medical facility, known as a “sleep lab.” The lab is set up to look like a standard bedroom, but it is located in a medical office. There may or may not be cameras or a one-way mirror for the specialist to observe your sleeping patterns. You will wear a series of recording devices on your body to monitor breathing, heart rate, snoring, etc.


Home Sleep Tests — Prefer not to stay overnight in a sleep lab? If you need a home sleep study, we can arrange to have you take a small device home that will record your sleep quality, breathing, pulse oximetry, and snoring. The machine has a small piece that squeezes one of your fingers and may wrap around your wrist. There’s also a small input device that attaches at the top of your chest. You simply push the start button once you’re ready to go to bed, then sleep on your back while everything is recorded. The next morning you bring the sleep machine back to our office to have the data interpreted. It’s that easy!


Benefits of a Home Sleep Study

In years past, getting tested for sleep apnea usually meant seeing a sleep physician and arranging an overnight sleep study in a “lab.” The lab is usually equipped to look like a simple hotel room and situated in a doctor’s office. It’s no surprise that a lot of people find it difficult to sleep at all when they’re 1) in a different place, and 2) know they’re being monitored by someone on the other side of the wall.

Fortunately, home sleep studies allow you to bypass the awkwardness of trying to go to sleep in a medical office overnight. The small kit is non-intrusive, and you can sleep in your own bed. That means your own pillow, mattress, thermostat setting, and nighttime routine. You can expect to be able to get to sleep easier knowing there’s not someone looking over your shoulder the entire time.

Home sleep studies make it easier for people who used to be hesitant about getting a sleep study to take control over their health. The convenience factor alone is worth it! Since most people are comfortable completing a study in their home, it’s easier for them to get screened for sleeping disorders and know what steps to take next.


How Much Does a Home Sleep Study Cost?

Getting a home sleep study in Raleigh costs $150 at our office. The flat $150 fee covers your entire home sleep study process, including renting the take-home equipment and having the data processed by a licensed sleep provider. There are no hidden fees or claims to process. The entire process is included in one clear price. Plus, home sleep studies are cheaper than traditional overnight lab sleep studies.


Health Complications of Sleep Apnea

Feeling tired and fatigued aren’t your only risk factors when it comes to living with a sleeping disorder. An undiagnosed or untreated case of sleep apnea can statistically raise your risk of:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Asthma
  • Acid reflux
  • Work and automobile accidents

By treating your sleep apnea, you can boost your body’s immune system and lower your chances of a cardiovascular incident. Sleep dentistry could — in effect — help save your life!


Where Can I Get an Oral Sleep Appliance?

Raleigh Dental Arts is your choice oral sleep appliance provider in the greater Raleigh area. As a sleep dentistry practice, we work closely with area sleep specialists and oral sleep appliance developers to provide CPAP alternatives to our patients.

When you’re looking for a doctor who offers oral sleep appliances, you’ll need to see a sleep dentist. Traditional pulmonologists or sleep physicians do not offer sleep mouthguards, as these devices can only be fitted by trained sleep dentists. However, if you’ve already seen a physician or have a sleep apnea diagnosis, you can ask for them to consult with your sleep dentist in order to have an oral appliance made. Raleigh Dental Arts has professional relationships with numerous sleep physicians in the area, making it easier for our patients to access a collaborative effort toward better health.

A typical family dental office does not provide sleep appliances or work with medical insurance. So, when you’re choosing the best sleep dentist in Raleigh, you’ll want to look for a provider who has specific training in the field of sleep medicine. At Raleigh Dental Arts, our sleep dentistry team can work with both medical and dental insurance, streamlining your experience and limiting any out of pocket expenses.

At Raleigh Dental Arts, we’re a completely digital practice. If you need an oral sleep appliance, we’ll use digital impressions to design a better fit (and smaller mouthpiece!) The enhanced accuracy of virtual mapping allows for a streamlined, optimal experience that fits as best as possible. That way you’ll be on your way to more comfortable sleep without bulky or noisy equipment. The smaller mouthpiece is less invasive so that you can sleep without other things getting in the way. Compared to older styles of sleep mouthguards — that were bulky and uncomfortable to wear — these advanced pieces of equipment gently position your mouth in a way that allows for maximum airflow.

Better Sleep is Just a Click Away

Contact our sleep dentist in Raleigh today to reserve your new patient consultation. Our experienced team is happy to assist you in any way we can!

Tarun Agarwal

Dr. Tarun Agarwal, DDS is considered one of the top dentists in the country. He is a recognized speaker, author, and dental leader. He has been featured on CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, and News 14 Carolina. Dr. Agarwal has been awarded '40 under 40' Business Leaders by the Triangle Business Journal. He is regularly invited to teach other dentists around the world and recently built a training center within the practice dedicated to sharing his expertise. Most importantly he is a loving husband and dedicated father of three wonderful children. His biggest accolade was being voted 'Best Dad in the World' by 2 of his 3 kids.