Less Common Symptoms that Point to Sleep Apnea

Royal Oak and Birmingham, MI

Sleep apnea is an airway disorder affecting nearly 10 million people in the U.S. Most people who have it are unaware of their condition. While the most common symptom is snoring, other symptoms are related to this detrimental sleep-breathing disorder. Detroit airway-dentist, Dr. Nancy Hartrick, wants to share today less common symptoms that point to sleep apnea. If you discover that you have any of these symptoms, please schedule a consultation with Hartrick Dentistry today.

Frequent Morning Headaches

Headaches have always been a bit of a mystery to the medical world. While we know that dehydration, stress, and even posture have a lot to do with headaches, another cause is lack of sleep. You may be thinking, “How could my headaches be linked to a sleep-breathing disorder? I go to bed every night at the same time. I sleep plenty of hours, just like the experts recommend, and I go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.” You may even live an otherwise healthy lifestyle, yet still are left with frequent morning headaches.

One of the causes is the lack of sufficient sleep due to obstructive sleep apnea. How does this happen? Sleep apnea occurs as a result of a blocked or restricted airway during sleep. This often leads to loud snoring or gasping for air as air tries to move through the airways. If the body does not receive enough oxygen, the brain will awaken from sleep to signal the body to resume breathing. If you have sleep apnea, or if this happens to you, you probably are unaware of it because the brain isn’t waking up entirely. Just enough to get the body breathing again. These are referred to as apneic events. Some sufferers could experience dozens of these per hour. Just imagine, your brain being disrupted during sleep dozens, if not hundreds of times a night. That is why the body is suffering from insufficient sleep, which could be the link to your morning headaches.


Another cause is that when the airways are restricted, the body will find a way to get what it needs. It’s going to resort to fight or flight mode. Because of this, you may clench and grind your teeth, unknowingly while asleep, in an effort to widen the airways. This is clinically known as bruxism. It causes a tremendous amount of pressure on your teeth, jaw joints and could cause headaches and jaw pain upon waking up in the morning.

Mood Swings

Mood swings also could be related to untreated sleep apnea. Everyone is feeling stressed more than usual these days. Unemployment rates have soared, financial stress, worried about your kids returning to school (or not), and how life is going to continue in a pandemic world. Naturally, stress has a significant impact on our mood. But that’s not all. Feeling tired, chronically fatigued, dealing with daily headaches, these are linked to untreated sleep apnea. Unfortunately, unless it is appropriately managed, these symptoms could lead to unexpected mood swings. In severe cases, it could even cause you to lose interest in things that you once loved, like family gatherings, hobbies, and other interests.

Mouth Breathing

One of the least commonly known symptoms of sleep apnea is how you breathe during your waking hours. Just take a moment, look in the mirror, and do nothing but just breathe. What is your oral posture? Is your mouth open or closed? Where is your tongue? Is it pressing against the roof of your mouth or lying low in your mouth? How about your teeth – are they slightly apart or are they touching? Mouth breathing is a prominent indicator of a sleep-breathing disorder. If you walk around every day with your mouth open, you could be at risk of sleep apnea. It is important to understand the benefits of nasal breathing.

Breathing through the nose warms the air, and creates more nitric oxide, which is healthier for the body. This process is not the same when mouth breathing. The nasal passages are also naturally designed to filter out dust and pathogens that could harm your health. On the other hand, mouth breathing does none of those things. In fact, it even creates other problems. It dries out the mouth, increasing the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. It also means that your breaths are shallow. Therefore, mouth breathing directly robs the body of the necessary air that it needs to thrive. You may not feel like you’re getting enough air, but insufficient oxygen supply takes a toll on your body. Similarly, if you don’t get enough of the right nutrition or enough water, your body suffers. Air is no different. Just because you do not feel the direct effects of missing out on other nutrients doesn’t mean that it is any less serious.

Sleep Apnea Solutions in Detroit, Royal Oak, and Birmingham, Michigan

The good news is that Dr. Hartrick, an airway-focused dentist in Detroit, offers simple solutions if you are experiencing these symptoms or believe that you have sleep apnea. We start by scheduling a consultation. Dr. Hartrick performs an airway assessment, assesses how you breathe and observes your rest oral posture. Dr. Hartrick may recommend that you undergo a sleep study to receive an official sleep apnea diagnosis. Once the study has been received and reviewed, Dr. Hartrick can devise a plan to help manage your sleep apnea.

We know what you might be thinking, if I have sleep apnea, I’m not wearing one of those CPAP things. You’re in luck. Dr. Hartrick offers a unique way to manage sleep apnea by using a customized oral orthotic, which is made from impressions of your mouth for a precise, yet comfortable fit. The purpose of wearing this appliance while sleeping is to encourage the jaw and tongue into proper positioning while asleep to maximize the airway for sufficient breathing. Patients report that their oral orthotic curbs their snoring, and helps them rest better.

Oral appliance therapy has become a more well-known method of managing sleep apnea. Even dental insurance policies are beginning to offer coverage for these appliances. If you’re wondering if oral appliance therapy is the right option to treat your snoring or sleep apnea, schedule your consultation with Dr. Hartrick by calling (248) 549-0950 or visit us online to schedule an appointment. You can be on your way to resting better and living a healthier life.

Posted in Sleep Apnea

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    Dr. Nancy Hartrick, DDS
    32609 Woodward Ave.
    Royal Oak, MI 48073
    Call: 248-549-0950
    Fax: 248-549-1180