As with many medical conditions in the 21st Century, we know a lot more about sleep apnea than we did two or three decades ago. In some ways, spotting sleep apnea can be as easy as looking for the most common side effects, which include things like snoring, constant exhaustion, and the catching of one’s breath in the middle of the night.

Other times, it might not be so easy, and frankly if you are the one experiencing the apnea, you may not notice that you’ve been snoring or catching your breath at night. In these cases, you may have to be on the lookout for some other, lesser-known symptoms of the condition.

The following is a look at some of the more little-known signs of sleep apnea:

#1 Morning Headaches

It’s easy for adults to experience headaches for any of a number of reasons. The kids are too noisy. The job is especially stressful one week. Your allergies are acting up. Despite all that, headaches also can be attached to sleep apnea. Not getting enough oxygen to the brain at any point in the day can give someone headaches, and since that’s what is happening with someone who has sleep apnea, it is not uncommon for sufferers to complain of morning headaches.

#2 Frequent Bathroom Use at Night

Many people wake up once, maybe twice a night to use the restroom, and there is absolutely nothing wrong or uncommon about that. However, people who suffer from something called nocturia, or frequent waking up during the night to urinate, may also be suffering some sleep apnea. Because apnea can wake you up while you sleep, your body may read that as needing to use the restroom. If that happens five or six times a night, it could be something to look into.

#3 Weight Gain

Not only are people with obesity more likely to suffer from sleep apnea, but there is a direct correlation between sleeping less each night (a side effect of apnea) and weight gain. In other words, it’s a bit of a vicious circle between sleep apnea, lack of sleep, and obesity. None of them help the other, and one can be a hidden side effect of the other.

Choose Us For Sleep Apnea Treatment

If you suspect you may be experiencing sleep apnea, there are a lot of things you can do, and Dr. Diane Hourigan is happy to help. Not many people immediately think of their dentist office as a place to turn for treating sleep apnea, but the truth is that our oral appliances can be just as effective as those pricey CPAP machines that don’t always work as well as patients would like.

If you would like more information about how Dr. Hourigan can help with your sleep apnea, give us a call to set up an appointment so we can help you have a better night’s sleep. Wouldn’t you like to live a life where both the better-known and lesser-known symptoms of sleep apnea are no longer a problem for you?



Dental emergencies are always inconvenient and often painful. Prompt treatment is almost always necessary to alleviate pain and to ensure the teeth have the best possible chance of survival. ALWAYS contact your dentist immediately if you experience a dental emergency. Chapel Hill emergency dentist Dr. Diane Hourigan explains the more common dental emergencies and how you should handle them:

Severe Pain

This is the most common type of emergency, and it’s an indication that a serious problem is developing. After you call your dentist, you can try over-the-counter pain relievers and a cold compress on and off your face for 20-minute intervals.

Knocked-Out (Avulsed) Tooth

If a tooth has been knocked out of the mouth, it is crucial for you to deal with it immediately. Contact your Chapel Hill emergency dentist immediately because if the tooth can be placed back into its socket within an hour, there is a chance the tissues will grow to support the tooth once again.

  • DO NOT touch the root of the tooth to avoid damaging attached tissue. Handle it carefully by the crown and rinse under warm water.
  • Place the tooth in a cup of milk, saliva, or water. It is important to keep the tooth from drying out.
  • If your emergency involves trauma to the face or jaw, or you experience excessive bleeding, call 911 or go directly to an emergency room.

Lost Filling or Crown

Once you’ve lost a filling the affected tooth may become highly sensitive to temperature changes and pressure. When a crown comes out, make a dental appointment as soon as possible. If you wait too long, you may damage the tooth and require a new restoration. Wrap the crown in tissue and bring it to the dentist. A lost crown can often be reused if we can replace it immediately.

Cracked or Broken Teeth

Natural teeth are strong, but they are still prone to fractures, cracks, and breaks. If the crack extends into the root, the pain may be extreme. If a tooth fractured or cracked, you must see an emergency dentist as quickly as possible.

Don’t let a dental emergency compromise your oral health. Call us right away to get the fast relief you need!


Do you brush and floss routinely, avoid sugary foods and drinks, and see your dentist for scheduled appointments but still get cavities? Do you have friends who don’t follow healthy oral habits and don’t deal with tooth decay and wonder if there’s any fairness left in the world?

Your Chapel Hill general dentist understands your frustration! How is it possible to take care of your teeth and still get cavities? It turns out that your genes may be responsible.

It’s Not Just about Bacteria

Keeping your mouth free of harmful bacteria is essential if you want a healthy smile, but another significant factor is the resistance of your teeth. A study conducted by two researchers from the University of Zurich shows a definite condition between defects in the gene complex that’s responsible for the formation of tooth enamel and the rate of caries (cavities).

What This Means for You

There’s a lot more study that needs to be conducted in this area to understand how these findings can change the way we approach oral health care. But whether or not your genetic makeup puts you at higher risk for tooth decay, there are always steps you can take:

  • Make sure your oral hygiene’s up to par – Brushing and flossing for decades does not make you an expert, and if you aren’t doing it properly, you may not be getting the benefit of your efforts. Talk to your hygienist to “brush up” on your oral hygiene for the best results.
  • Keep up with routine dental appointments – Prevention is the key to enjoying good oral health, making semi-annual exams and cleanings with your general dentist crucial. Decide if you’d rather take a couple of hours out of your week now or wait until you need costly and complex treatment!
  • Pay attention to what you eat and drink – Certain foods, especially those high in sugar and acid, are very damaging and weaken dental enamel which can lead to cavities.


Please Call to Arrange an Appointment

Your family dentist can offer you many helpful tips for keeping your smile healthy, regardless of genetics. If you would like to learn more, please call the Novato family dentist to arrange a convenient appointment.