Understanding

Sleep Apnea

Do you have trouble sleeping? If so, you’re not alone. An estimated 22 million Americans suffer from a lack of sleep—and even exhaustion—caused by sleep apnea. Chronic snoring problems and interrupted sleep aren’t just an inconvenience. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to more serious health risks. Sleep apnea is a common but serious sleep disorder that causes interruptions in breathing during sleep. These pauses in breathing are called apneas and they can happen hundreds of times each night. Sleep apnea can have a negative impact on your health and prevent you from getting the restful night’s sleep your body needs.
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Potential Health Issues

From Untreated Sleep Apnea

Continuously interrupted sleep can result in serious health-related problems.
Potential health issues that may result from untreated sleep apnea include:

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Sudden death

Heart attack

Stroke

High blood pressure

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Diabetes

Obesity

ADHD

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Dementia

Depression

Inability to concentrate

Impaired memory

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Common Symptoms

of Sleep Apnea

  • Frequent, loud snoring
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Chronic exhaustion even after a full night’s sleep
  • Gasping, choking or snorting during sleep
  • Morning headaches

  • Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor memory, moodiness or difficulty concentrating
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat

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Sleep Apnea Risk Quiz

Important Considerations for Sleep Apnea

Use this brief questionnaire and checklist to determine if you might be at risk for sleep apnea.


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Sleep Apnea Consultation | CPAP alternative | Western North Carolina

Complimentary

Sleep Apnea Consultation

Our doctors feel so strongly that knowledge and action can improve and save lives that they are offering a no-cost individual 30 minute consultation on sleep breathing disorders. Whether it’s loud snoring or other sleep apnea symptoms, make sure you are not at risk for this very treatable, potentially life threatening condition. Learn more about sleep apnea and get all of your questions answered. We have a limited number of consultation times available, so schedule yours as soon as possible.

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At-Home Sleep Test

A Comfortable Alternative

If during your consultation it is suspected that you may suffer from sleep apnea, we will assist you in ordering a convenient and accurate home sleep test designed to assist in the diagnosis of sleep-disordered breathing. In the comfort of your own bed, you’ll wear the testing device while sleeping. A Board Certified Sleep Physician will interpret the data and we will contact you to discuss your results.

Sleep Apnea take home test | CPAP alternative | Western North Carolina
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CPAP alternative oral appliance | Sleep Apnea Treatment | Western North Carolina

Oral Appliance Therapy

A Convenient Alternative to CPAP

These devices are custom fitted by dentists with special expertise and training in treating sleep apnea. They fit in the mouth, similar to a retainer or mouth guard. They open your airway by moving your lower jaw and tongue forward while you sleep. They are small, comfortable and effective.

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Benefits of Treatment

Restful Sleep

A full night’s sleep for both you and your partner. Wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Daytime Alertness

Experience increased concentration, memory, focus and energy.

Improved Health

Avoid the health risks caused by untreated sleep apnea and live a longer, healthier, more enjoyable life.

Meet the Doctor

William T. Link DDS

Dr. Link is a Burke County native. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for both his Undergraduate and Doctor of Dental Surgery Degrees. Dr. Link graduated and passed the North Carolina State Dental Board examination in 1988 and began practicing that year.

Dr. Link believes in the value of continuing education to advance his level of skill and knowledge to expand and continually improve the services he provides. He annually exceeds the number of continuing education hours required by the State Dental Board of Dental Examiners.

First and foremost, Dr. Link believes in treating patients as he would his own family. He always tries to provide all treatment options and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each so his patients can make informed decisions about their care.

A Message From Dr. Link

I was “forced” by my wife to be evaluated over 10 years ago because I stopped breathing when I was asleep. I went for a sleep test and was told I had severe sleep apnea and was given a CPAP. No one ever really explained what was happening or the significant health risks associated with sleep apnea. I had no idea what an AHI was- just that I needed to use the machine. I did sleep better and feel better but felt like I should know more.

A little over 4 years ago I came across an online CE class on sleep apnea and decided to take it. The information in there made me REALLY want to know more. Since then I have taken over 90 hours of Continuing Education related to dental sleep medicine. I have completed the Dental Sleep Medicine Mini-Residency sponsored by UNC School of Dentistry and the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain. I was just accepted as a “Qualified” dentist for the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.

I am passionate about helping people with sleep related breathing disorders. There are so many un-diagnosed people and the health consequences can be severe. Healthy sleep is as important as exercise and a healthy diet.

Dr. William T. Link | Sleep Therapy Expert | Western North Carolina

Common Questions

Regarding Sleep Apnea

If I snore, do I have sleep apnea?

Snoring frequently accompanies sleep apnea but it is not always an indicator of whether this sleep condition is present. However, snoring can indicate that bulky throat tissue could potentially obstruct airways – especially if patients have certain lifestyle factors that contribute to sleep apnea. Fortunately, the treatment we offer for sleep apnea and snoring is the same. By prescribing a custom oral appliance, the diameter of the airway can be widened to prevent the sounds of snoring as well as episodes of apnea. These oral appliances are soft and comfortable to wear. They work by positioning the lower jaw slightly forward so that the airway is no longer obstructed.

Is it possible that I have sleep apnea even if I don't snore?

Anyone of any age can have sleep apnea. Even though snoring can accompany sleep apnea, it is not always a symptom of this sleep disorder. For this reason, it is important to have a sleep study conducted to determine if apnea is occurring. Our practice provides take-home sleep study machinery to detect episodes of apnea during sleep. After usage, the device will be returned to our practice and we will analyze the data collected. If we find that sleep apnea is present or determine if snoring is obstructing one’s quality of life, we will provide treatment recommendations.

What causes sleep apnea?

The exact cause of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is different for each person. Anyone can develop it, regardless of age or gender. The most common risk factors include:

  • Being over age 40
  • Having a large neck (over 17 inches in men, 16 inches for women)
  • Being overweight – approximately half of OSA sufferers are overweight
  • Being male – more men than women suffer from OSA
  • Having a large tongue or small jaw
  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids (particularly in children)
  • Using alcohol or sedatives which relax the muscles in the airway
  • Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum or sinus and allergy problems

What is the difference between a CPAP and an oral appliance?

While CPAP is very effective in treating sleep apnea, many people cannot tolerate the discomfort of  the mask and the inconvenience and noise of the machine. Therefore a high percentage of users have difficulty or will not wear them.  

An oral appliance is a popular alternative to the CPAP. This device is small, portable, fits more comfortably and can provide similar treatment benefits.

How do you confirm the effectiveness of the oral appliance?

You will have a follow-up sleep study while using your oral appliance to confirm the effectiveness of the device. A consultation with the sleep medicine physician will be necessary to interpret the results.

Does insurance cover sleep apnea treatment?

Because insurance plans vary widely, our experienced team will work with you to see if your insurance company will cover the oral appliance. If for any reason it isn’t covered, we will let you know and work with you to develop a financial plan if needed.

If coverage is available for oral appliances, it will come from your medical insurance carrier. Most dental insurance companies do not cover treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.  

Our patients tell us it is well worth the investment of their time and money to treat their sleep apnea because of the improved quality of life they experience.

What if I don’t have insurance?

We offer financing options and will work with you to find a solution that fits your needs.

How long will it take to adapt to the oral appliance? Will it hurt my teeth?

The majority of patients will adapt to the appliance within 5-10 days. It will take a few days to get used to having a device in your mouth while you sleep. The appliance will not hurt your teeth. If your teeth are sore after initial use, we can easily adjust it for your comfort.

How often will the appliance need to be replaced?

They are made of hard acrylic, which is very durable. They are typically replaced every 3-5 years depending on wear and tear. If you grind your teeth, you may have a more frequent rate of repair or replacement.

Will the appliance change my bite?

A change in your bite is possible. Depending on the position of your teeth and the status of your bone, your teeth may shift. This can be minimized with the use of a morning re-positioning device.

Are there any side effects of the appliance?

The most common side effect is morning muscle soreness that usually goes away after a short time. Some patients may experience either dry mouth or excessive salivation. As mentioned above, minor tooth movement occurs in some patients.

How long will I have to use the oral appliance?

Obstructive sleep apnea in unlikely to decrease with age; therefore your oral appliance will probably be a lifelong therapy. However, certain wellness factors such as significant weight loss may improve your symptoms.

Can’t I just order a boil and bite device off the internet?

While there are over-the-counter appliances you can order, keep in mind these are not FDA approved for treating sleep apnea. Additionally, when not fitted properly they may cause unwanted side effects such as jaw problems or excessive tooth movement.

Schedule Your Complimentary
Sleep Apnea Consultation

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Sleep Well WNC | 300 Sanford Drive, Morganton, NC 28655 | (828) 437-7300