Sleep Apnea Specialist

Allena Willis, DMD -  - Orthodontist

Smashing Smiles Orthodontics

Allena Willis, DMD

Orthodontist located in Washington, DC

Snoring isn’t funny when it interrupts your sleep, makes you feel tired in the morning, and interferes with your partner’s rest, too. Snoring can also be a sign of a medical condition called sleep apnea, which may be easily treated by expert Dr. Allena Willis Kennerly at Smashing Smiles Orthodontics in Washington, D.C. If you think you, your partner, or your child may have sleep apnea and you live in the D.C. area, contact Dr. Willis by phoning up the friendly Smashing Smiles team or booking a consultation online.

Sleep Apnea Q & A

What is sleep apnea?

Apneas are unintentional, automatic pauses in your breathing. When apneas occur while you sleep, you may have a serious condition called sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea prevents you from getting a fully restful, restorative sleep. Therefore, sleep apnea can interfere with the way your organs function. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

What causes sleep apnea?

The most common type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, occurs when the tissue in your throat or nose impedes the healthy flow of air. In a more rare type, central sleep apnea, your brain forgets to signal your lungs to breathe. Some children, women, and men may have a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea, which is known as complex sleep apnea.

Why did I get sleep apnea?

Central sleep apnea is usually caused by a medical condition, such as kidney failure, or by certain medications. You’re more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea if you:

  • Are overweight or obese
  • Have a family member with sleep apnea
  • Have large tonsils, neck, or tongue
  • Have a recessed chin
  • Have a deviated nasal septum

How can I tell if I have sleep apnea?

Snoring is the hallmark of sleep apnea, but not everyone who snores has sleep apnea and not everyone with sleep apnea snores. Some signs that you could have sleep apnea include:

  • Feeling unrested after a full night’s sleep
  • Waking up multiple times during the night
  • Awakening yourself by snoring or gagging
  • Choking in your sleep
  • Drowsiness and brain fog during the day
  • Trouble concentrating and remembering
  • Mood problems, including crankiness and depression
  • Sore or dry throat or coughing in the morning

How does an orthodontist treat sleep apnea?

If you have obstructive sleep apnea, Dr. Willis fits you with a soft, custom-designed appliance that looks like a mouthguard. The appliance shifts your jaw forward while you sleep to open up your airway. The result is deeper, uninterrupted, and more restful sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea that doesn’t resolve with the appliance can be treated surgically or with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. If you have central or complex sleep apnea, Dr. Willis refers you to a sleep specialist.

Don’t suffer through sleep apnea and its consequences. Get relief and a good night’s sleep by contacting Smashing Smiles Orthodontics by phone or online form.