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All posts by Warrenton Dental Center

Obesity: A Leading Cause of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that continues to grow, and a lot of it has to do with the obesity epidemic. The worst part is that not only does obesity have an association with sleep apnea, but sleep apnea tends to cause people to eat more, too. It’s a difficult situation in which each condition can add to the other. So, what’s the solution? Losing weight and seeking treatment.

A Look at the Numbers

The statistics are alarming! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 65% of Americans are overweight or obese. From 1980 to 1999, the number of obese adults jumped from 15% to 27%. And, in 2000, more than 15% of children ages 6 to 19 years old were overweight, which is three times higher than in 1980. We should wonder, “why are we getting fatter as a nation?” Our levels of physical activity have plummeted, and our caloric intake has increased when it should be declining.

Why Does Obesity Lead to Sleep Apnea?

Obesity is a leading cause and side effect of sleep apnea. By adding on weight, it raises the risk of sleep apnea, while losing weight can help cure sleep apnea. When people are severely overweight, they can fail to breathe rapidly enough or deep enough. When this occurs, it results in low blood oxygen levels and high blood carbon dioxide levels. And when this happens, many people who are obese stop breathing altogether for short periods of time during sleep. In return, extreme strain is placed on the heart, which can lead to symptoms of heart failure.

Lose Weight Now

It is important to take charge of your health and life. Begin making smarter choices to lose weight. Sleep experts suggest the following:

  • Make healthy choices for your meals
  • Start exercising consistently
  • Examine your sleep schedule

Weighing yourself on a scale isn’t the answer to improving your weight because muscle often weighs more than fat. To find out what your body mass index (BMI) is, visit the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s website.

Contact Dr. Bonnie Foster to learn more about sleep apnea and what steps you can take to begin losing weight.

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4 Signs of Sleep Apnea to Watch Out For

Oh no, not again! Is your partner complaining about your snoring again? Are they tired of hearing a freight train next to them every night? While snoring can be extremely annoying for your bed partner, it can also be detrimental to your health. Loud snoring might a sign that you are suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). To help you better understand sleep apnea, let’s take a closer look at four obvious signs you won’t want to ignore.

You Wake Up Thirsty

Have you ever woken up and your mouth is as dry as the Sahara Desert? If you wake up every morning (or even throughout the night) and think you just woke up in the middle of Arizona because your mouth is so dry, you might have a more serious condition. A sign of sleep apnea is dry mouth and the need to drink more water. Snoring can cause a dry mouth and a sore throat, so be on the lookout for this.

Morning Headaches

Poor sleep can lead to morning headaches, which can lead to a very unproductive day. Waking up with a headache is never fun, so pay close attention to when these headaches occur. If you suspect your headache is caused by your sleeping condition, it might be time to contact us for further information. Don’t just deal with morning headaches in hopes they will just go away. Reach out and get help.

Sensitive Teeth or a Sore Jaw

While you’re sleeping, you might be clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth. This typically occurs because your body is trying to force enough air through the airway. Pay attention to your jaw and teeth when you wake up, and even throughout the day. Do you feel soreness or sensitivity? It might be time to visit and seek treatment.

Frequent Nighttime Bathroom Breaks

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom? Or maybe even a couple times throughout the night? Interrupted sleep can lead to more frequent urges to use the bathroom. Pay attention to how frequently you are waking up throughout the night. If it is far more than once or twice, it is important to receive a diagnosis.

Contact Dr. Bonnie Foster to learn more about sleep apnea and what to look out for. Your health is important, and so is your sleep.

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The Dangerous Combination of Sleep Apnea and Hypertension

Snoring can affect just about anyone—even if you don’t realize you are doing it. While snoring occurs more frequently in men and those who are overweight, snoring tends to worsen with age. And, while occasional snoring is not very serious (and just a nuisance for your bed partner), it can be a risk for serious health problems, such as sleep apnea.  What is even worse, is the connection between sleep apnea and high blood pressure.

The Connection

Several studies have shown that sleep apnea and high blood pressure are quite the dangerous team—or should we say rivalries? When sleep apnea and high blood pressure are combined, it increases your risk for a stroke and heart attacks. Treatment of sleep apnea helps in lowering blood pressure. One treatment option might be an oral appliance, which helps to open the airway to encourage proper breathing at nighttime.

Lifestyle changes can also be beneficial for improving sleep apnea symptoms and diminishing hypertension. For example, losing weight if you are overweight, not drinking alcohol, and exercising regularly can all help in preventing the narrowing of your airway when you sleep.

Contact Dr. Bonnie Foster in Warrenton for sleep apnea treatment options in order to prevent hypertension and improve your health.

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Guard Your Heart and Treat Sleep Apnea

Snoring is an annoying act, especially for the person who listens to it every night—or maybe they’re lucky enough to fall asleep before you and don’t hear it. While snoring is annoying, if the snorer repeatedly stops breathing for brief moments throughout the night, it can lead to heart disease.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when a person’s breathing pauses every five to 30 minutes per hor or more during sleep. When these episodes of pauses in breathing, the sleeper will wake up because they gasp for air. This prevents restful sleep and is commonly associated with high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke and heart failure.

Approximately one in five adults suffer from mild to moderate sleep apnea, with more men suffering from this condition than women. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in which weight on the upper chest and neck contributes to blocking the flow of air. OSA is associated with obesity, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease

Sleep apnea can lead to heart attacks, which cause people to die in the middle of the night due to low oxygen or the stress of waking up frequently during sleep. As you might know, heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, while stroke takes fourth place for the cause of death and a leading cause of disability—high blood pressure is a major risk in both conditions.

The relationship between sleep apnea, hypertension and cardiovascular disease is very strong, which makes it vital that everyone understand this connection and seek treatment immediately.

Treatment for Sleep Apnea

To help minimize your chances of heart disease, it is important to receive proper treatment for your sleep apnea. While the most common treatment option is CPAP therapy, many people are non-compliant, meaning they can’t deal with the treatment or it is uncomfortable. An improved option for treatment from Dr. Foster is oral appliance therapy. Like a mouth guard in appearance, an oral appliance works to prevent your tongue from falling over your through during sleep. This helps to open the airway and keep you breathing throughout the night.

Contact Dr. Bonnie Foster in Warrenton, VA to learn more about the sleep apnea and heart disease connection. Seeking proper treatment can make all the difference you need to live a healthy life.

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Change Your Sleep Position

Have you ever thought about which sleep position is the best for your sleep? Understanding various sleep positions can help you better understand how to improve your sleep patterns. The sleep position you choose, directly affects your quality of sleep. Let’s take a look at the best and worst positions for sleeping.

The Worst Position

For one person, sleeping on the back might be the best, while another might be a side sleeper. To determine the best and worst position for you, simply sleep. Yes, that’s right—sleep. However, if you snore or suffer from sleep apnea, back sleeping is a big no-no. By sleeping on your back you may obstruct your airway, so try to sleep on your side to open your airway back up. An oral appliance will help with this as well.

The Best Position

If you suffer from sleep apnea, side sleeping may be the best choice because it helps keep your airways open. Research suggests that sleeping on your left side can relieve heartburn symptoms, while right side sleeping makes them worse. Remember to go with the flow and allow your body to fall into its intended position. And, yes, your mattress does matter—if it is worn and damaged, you could negatively impact your quality of sleep. No one stays in one position all night—doing so is bad for circulation—and it varies from person to person.

Contact our Warrenton, VA office to learn more about sleep positions and how sleep apnea might be affecting your rest.

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The Myths and Facts of Sleep Apnea

Are you tired during the day, but are getting the amount of rest you need? If so, you could be suffering from sleep apnea, which is a common disorder that causes frequent disruptions in your breathing, or shallow breaths while you sleep. These pauses can last from a few seconds to several minutes and can occur 30 times or more an hour. To help you better understand sleep apnea, lets take a look at some common myths and facts to help you decide if you or a loved one should see Dr. Bonnie Foster at our Warrenton office for further information.

Myth: People with sleep apnea know they have it because they’re jerked awake when their breathing stops.

Fact: Most people are unaware they have sleep apnea because they are sleeping when symptoms occur. Many people find out their breathing is affected by another who watches them or hears them while they sleep.

Myth: People with sleep apnea know they have it because they’re jerked awake when their breathing stops.

Fact: Most people are unaware they have sleep apnea because they are sleeping when symptoms occur. Many people find out their breathing is affected by another who watches them or hears them while they sleep. 

Myth: Sleep apnea is just an impressive word for snoring.

Fact: Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea. But, it also might be an annoying sound that your bed partner makes throughout the night because the muscles in his or her throat relax too much.

Myth: Only people who are old or overweight get sleep apnea.

Fact: Sleep apnea can affect people of all ages and sizes. However, people who are overweight may be able to reduce symptoms by losing weight.

Myth: Alcohol is a good remedy.

Fact: Alcohol is not the solution. Instead, alcohol relaxes the muscles in the back of the throat, which blocks the airway—sleeping pills have the same effect.

Treatment of sleep apnea can include simple lifestyle changes or oral appliance therapy. An oral appliance is worn during sleep and gently pushes the lower jaw outward to create an unobstructed airway.

If you suffer from sleep apnea and are ready for a good nights sleep, contact Dr. Foster at our Warrenton office today!

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Improve Your Sleep and Quit Smoking

If you quit smoking it will significantly improve your overall health—especially your lungs. Did you also know that by quitting smoking you might also significantly improve your sleep?  You can! Let’s take a closer look at smoking and how it can negatively affect your sleep.

The Negative Effects of Smoking and Sleep

If you compare a smoker to a non-smoker, it has been shown that smokers are three times more likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (Wow!). This is because smoking causes an increase of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway, which can further aggravate sleep apnea symptoms.

Both smoking and sleep apnea are deadly conditions that can severely shorten your life span when combined. For example, smoking and sleep apnea can both cause cardiovascular and respiratory health problems. This means treatment is vital to your health.

Seek Treatment and Quit Smoking

Smoking makes the swelling in your upper airway worse, which can further aggravate symptoms such as snoring and pauses in breathing (sleep apnea). In order to have successful treatment, you must quit smoking. By quitting your habit of smoking, you are significantly improving your treatment options and the results from treatment. While quitting smoking does not guarantee that your sleep apnea will disappear, it does ensure that treatment will be much more effective.

While it is up to you to quit smoking, we can successfully treat your sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy. Contact us today to learn more about your sleep apnea treatment options and tips for quitting your smoking habit.

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A Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Your Weight

Weight loss can significantly improve, and potentially eliminate, obstructive sleep apnea symptoms in obese people.  Researchers have found that people with severe obstructive sleep apnea who lost the recommended amount of weight, were three times more likely to experience remission of sleep apnea symptoms compared to those who did not lose any weight.

The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Obesity

Not everyone with sleep apnea is overweight, but most patients are.  Losing weight gets rid of fat that blocks the windpipe. In doing so, it can not only fix your sleep trouble, but can also help with your cholesterol, knees, clothes and overall feeling of yourself.  Some people have found that moderate to severe sleep apnea can be completely corrected by losing excess weight.  And for others, even a small amount of weight loss can open up the throat and improve sleep apnea symptoms.

After weight loss, if you are still experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea, Dr. Bonnie Foster can work with you to create an appropriate treatment plan, including oral appliance therapy.  Schedule a consultation to determine the best treatment option for you. And remember, sleep apnea should never be ignored.

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The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Type 2 Diabetes


Let’s cut to the main point of this blog post: sleep apnea can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. It’s that to the point. Sleep apnea is a condition where a person’s airway becomes partially or completely blocked during sleep. As a result, breathing will stop and start throughout the night. Approximately 13 percent of men and 6 percent of women suffer from moderate to severe undiagnosed sleep apnea. While the percentages might seem small, it is important that we do not ignore them.

What is the Connection?

The World Health Organization states that approximately one in every 10 adults suffers from diabetes. Of those with diabetes, a majority has type 2 diabetes, which is when the body can’t make or process enough of the insulin hormone. For those who have type 2 diabetes, obesity is an increased risk. In addition, sleep apnea is also an increased risk for obesity and vice versa.

We need to place a high amount of focus in preventing sleep apnea. By screening for diabetes if you have sleep apnea, and screening for sleep apnea if you have diabetes, we can take strides in further protection against both conditions. This also holds true for those who are overweight and physically inactive people.

It is important to be aware of the link between sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes. While ongoing research is still being completed, knowing there is a connection is key to protecting your overall health and well-being. Contact Dr. Bonnie Foster for more information on the connection between sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes, and how we can help.

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Are You at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Stop searching for answers across the Internet—we’ve got some risks to share with you so you don’t have to look any further. As you know, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when breathing pathways through the mouth, nose or throat are collapsed or blocked. These airways are susceptible to blockages, or collapse, as the muscle tone lining these pathways relaxes during sleep. So, who is at risk for sleep apnea? Let’s find out!

You are at Risk If…

Those who are the most at risk for developing sleep apnea are overweight individuals. Due to excess tissue, pressure is placed on the airway. More than half of those with sleep apnea are classified as overweight—an issue we need to tackle now. Your risk for developing sleep apnea significantly increases with increased weight, age and those with diabetes, as well as smokers.

You may also be susceptible to sleep apnea if you have a constricted shape or small size of certain features in the nose, mouth or throat. Allergies and other medical conditions can also cause the features along the airway to restrict the flow of oxygen. On the other hand, sleep apnea is often more common in men than women. It is also more common among African Americans, Hispanics and Pacific Islanders than Caucasians.

Contact Craniofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Center of Virginia for more information and to find out if you have sleep apnea. Together, Dr. Foster and her team of dental professionals can help improve your health.

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