Sawing wood. Raising the roof. Waking the dead. There are hundreds of jokes about snoring, but truly snoring is no laughing matter. Snoring is a common condition that can affect anyone, though it occurs more frequently in men and people who are overweight. Snoring affects one out of three Americans. Sadly, snoring has a tendency to worsen with age. Habitual snorers not only disrupt sleep patterns of those close to them, but also impair their own sleep quality.
Snoring occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose is physically obstructed. Basically, the force of the incoming air makes the tissues of your throat vibrate against each other. Air flow can be obstructed by a combination of factors, including:
- Obstructed nasal airways – some people snore during allergy seasons or when they have a sinus infection. Obstructed airways are also caused by deformities of the nose, such as a deviated septum (a structural change in the wall that separates one nostril from the other), or nasal polyps.
- Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue – throat and tongue muscles can be too relaxed, which allows them to collapse and fall back into the airway. This can result from deep sleep, alcohol consumption, or use of some sleeping pills. Normal aging causes further relaxation of these muscles.
- Being overweight – this condition may cause bulky throat tissue. Long soft palate and/or uvula – a long soft palate or a long uvula (the dangling tissue in back of the mouth) can narrow the opening from the nose to the throat. When these structures vibrate and bump against one another, the airway becomes obstructed. Habitual snorers can be at risk for serious health problems, including Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). In OSA patients, the tissues in the back of the upper airway block the entire airway and there is a pause in the breathing. The oxygen levels in the blood drop due to the restriction in oxygen flow. A patient can stop breathing hundreds of times a night – and for a long time. The person feels like choking and gasps for air as they try to breath.
OSA can cause:
- A strain on the heart – prolonged suffering from sleep apnea often results in higher blood pressure and may cause enlargement of the heart, with higher risks of heart attack and stroke.
- Poor night's sleep – which leads to drowsiness during the day, interfering with your quality of life.
- Chronic headaches
Although dentists do not diagnose sleep apnea, a trained Dental Sleep Professional can offer significant help. I have many years experience in this field. I’ll work with your physician and/or sleep specialist by selecting, fabricating, fitting and adjusting an oral appliance that will open your airway, re-positioning the lower jaw and tongue forward to treat the snoring and OSA. Our appliances are minimally invasive and highly effective. I’ll perform periodic evaluations, and if required, make adjustments to maximize results.
Less snoring, better sleep quality – let’s talk about your individual treatment plan.