Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea Specialist
Sleep apnea affects millions of men and women, increasing their risks of heart attacks and strokes. While some severe types of apnea may require surgery to correct, many people can find relief from their symptoms and decrease their risks of more serious medical issues with a simple nighttime mouth guard. At Sunny Dental Care, Dr. Lily Eng creates custom mouth guards for patients in the Lower Manhattan area of New York, providing men and women with a simple, comfortable solution for a better night’s sleep and a healthier life.

Sleep Apnea Q & A

Sunny Dental Care

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a medical condition that causes breathing to stop multiple times during sleep. This can occur hundreds of times during a single night. Most of these interruptions are very brief, and many people who have sleep apnea don’t realize it until it’s diagnosed by a doctor or until their partner complains about their snoring or or gasping during sleep.

Apnea doesn’t always cause snoring, and not all snoring is a sign of apnea. For many patients, the only sign they have apnea is a feeling of daytime drowsiness that occurs as a result of the continual interruptions in their sleep.

There are two types of apnea: 

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) - OSA is the most common and occurs when the tissues at the back of the throat relax and “drop” into the airway, partially blocking it.
  • Central apnea  - Central apnea is far less common and occurs when the muscles that control breathing don’t receive or don’t respond to nerve signals coming from the brain. Central sleep apnea occurs more often in people with heart disease, strokes, and neuromuscular disorders.


Some people have a combination of both types of sleep apnea. OSA is more common among men and among older people. Obesity, a family history of OSA, smoking, and alcohol use also increase the risk of developing the condition.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Constant waking: Often without realizing why
  • Snoring or choking sounds
  • Gasping for breath
  • Waking up short of breath
  • Daytime drowsiness or falling asleep unintentionally
  • Headaches
  • Feeling unrested

What kinds of problems can sleep apnea cause?

Sleep apnea has been linked with very serious medical problems, including heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure. People who sleep poorly are also more likely to have diabetes and be obese. Plus, the excessive drowsiness associated with sleep apnea can increase the risk of accidents at work, home, or while driving.

How does a dentist treat sleep apnea?

Dentists can help many patients treat their apnea and reduce or eliminate their symptoms with the use of special mouth guards worn during sleep.

The mouth guards gently shift the position of the bottom jaw, helping to keep the airway open during sleep. Mouth guards are custom made of special materials so they’re very comfortable while they’re being worn.

In cases where mouth guards are not effective in relieving symptoms, other options like CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) or even surgery can be considered.

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