Millions of Americans snore, and while snoring in and of itself is not a dire medical condition, it may be an indication of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In addition to many dental concerns that we address, sleep apnea is also a condition we treat. Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that causes a person to stop breathing repeatedly during sleep.
Some people are able to stop snoring by losing weight, avoiding tobacco, and limiting alcohol before bed. But for others, professional intervention is the only way to stop snoring and get a better night’s sleep.
What Causes Snoring?
Snoring is a noise caused by vibrations in the airway. When we sleep, the muscles in the back of the mouth relax. As air passes over them, they can vibrate producing a snoring sound. In the case of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the muscles obstruct the airway and disrupt normal breathing.
Many people snore, but studies indicate that men, older adults, and people who are overweight are more likely to snore. Alcohol, smoking, and sedative use also contribute to snoring.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common sleep breathing disorder. The most noticeable sign of OSA is snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea is considered a serious medical condition and can contribute to cardiovascular problems, fatigue, and complications with medications and surgery.
It is typically caused by an obstruction of the upper airway during sleep resulting from the collapse of soft tissues at the back of the throat. The airway becomes blocked, and patients are momentarily unable to breathe, cutting oxygen off from vital organs.
If sleep apnea is not addressed and treated it could lead to many other health issues. These include:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Weight gain
There is no single cause for snoring or sleep apnea. Anyone could develop it however there are several risk factors including:
- Being overweight or obese
- Family history of OSA
- Narrow airway or small lower jaw
- Constant nasal congestion
- Women who are post-menopausal
- Drinking alcohol
- Being a male over 40 especially if you have a large neck circumference
Snoring and OSA can be made worse by drinking, smoking, or using sedatives. Untreated sleep apnea in adults could lead to an increased risk for developing heart disease, high blood pressure due to drops in the blood oxygen level, type 2 diabetes, and strokes. If left untreated, the higher risk of developing larger health problems can make existing medical conditions harder to manage.
Sleep Apnea and Snoring Solutions
If lifestyle changes are not possible or make no impact on your snoring or sleep apnea, you may need to seek professional treatment. Dr. Finlay treats snoring and sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy. These are custom-made, removable dental devices designed to keep the airways open during sleep and prevent snoring.
How Does a Snore Guard Work?
- Repositions the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate, or uvula
- Stabilizes the lower jaw and tongue
- Increases the muscle tone of the tongue
Wake Up Feeling Refreshed
Snoring affects not just the snorer, but the sleep partner as well. Contact Scott Finlay, DDS & Associates, PA of Annapolis, MD to find out if a snore guard is right for you.
Call our Annapolis, MD dentist office at 410.989.7132 or request an appointment online.