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Snoring and Sleep Apnea Annapolis, MD

Millions of Americans snore. While snoring in and of itself is not a dire medical condition, it may indicate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In addition to many dental concerns that we address, we treat sleep apnea in our Annapolis, MD office. Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that causes a person to stop breathing repeatedly during sleep.

Some people can stop snoring by losing weight, avoiding tobacco, and limiting alcohol before bed. But for others, professional intervention is the only way to stop snoring. Our dentist can provide sleep apnea treatment for a good night’s sleep.

Snoring and Sleep Apnea in Annapolis, MD

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. Snoring does not always mean that someone has sleep apnea. However, snoring is a common symptom that often accompanies sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea in Annapolis, MD

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. It can contribute to cardiovascular problems, fatigue, and complications with medications and surgery.

Sleep apnea 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 vital organs.

How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?

It can be difficult to know if you have sleep apnea if you don’t have a partner. However, several common symptoms accompany sleep apnea to look out for:

  • Insomnia
  • Loud snoring
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Awakening with a dry throat
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Waking up multiple times a night

Untreated sleep apnea can lead to many other health issues. These include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Weight gain
  • Impotence
  • Headaches

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

There is no single cause for snoring or sleep apnea. Anyone could develop sleep apnea. However, there are several risk factors, including:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Family history of OSA
  • Smoking
  • Narrow airway or small lower jaw
  • Constant nasal congestion
  • Post-menopausal women
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being a male over 40, especially if you have a large neck circumference

Sleep apnea can make taking certain medications, receiving anesthesia, or undergoing surgery difficult. Patients with sleep apnea cannot receive general anesthesia. This anesthetic slows breathing, increasing the chance of breathing problems and cardiac events. Diagnosing sleep apnea early on is essential to prevent complications during medical or dental care.

Heart Problems Connected to Sleep Apnea

Untreated sleep apnea in adults could lead to an increased risk of:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Stroke

If left untreated, the higher risk of developing larger health problems can make existing medical conditions harder to manage. Patients who already have heart problems may notice more frequent heart issues when they develop sleep apnea.

Continuous pauses in breathing put a strain on the heart. OSA also lowers blood oxygen levels, as a pause in breathing restricts oxygen to the heart. Low blood oxygen leads to high blood pressure. Over time, obstructive sleep apnea can overwork the heart and lead to increased heart attacks, stroke, and heart disease.

Sleep apnea treatment can help the heart recover and improve symptoms that lead to heart issues. Treating sleep apnea can help lengthen a patient’s lifespan in the most severe cases.

Sleep Apnea and Snoring Solutions in Annapolis, MD

Before you receive treatment, it’s best to undergo a sleep study. Work with your doctor to schedule an at-home or in-office sleep study. Then, once you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, you can receive recommended treatment in our office.

Sometimes, lifestyle changes, including losing weight, quitting smoking, or drinking less, can address sleep apnea. Sleeping on your side or your front may also prevent airway blockages.

However, if your symptoms worsen, you will need professional treatment. Dr. Finlay treats snoring and sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy. These custom-made, removable dental devices keep the airways open during sleep and prevent snoring.

How Does a Snore Guard Work?

A snore guard looks like a nightguard but works to help keep the upper airway open. Wearing a snore guard during sleep:

  • Repositions the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate, or uvula
  • Stabilizes the lower jaw and tongue
  • Increases the tongue’s muscle tone

Compared to CPAP machines, snore guards are much more comfortable. CPAP machines are bulky, loud, and often uncomfortable to wear. Many patients find it difficult to sleep while wearing a CPAP mask. Alternatively, snore guards are small, portable, and noiseless. Carrying and cleaning oral appliances is simple, making them ideal for travel.

We custom-make snore guards to keep the airway open during sleep. The snore guard will help position the teeth and jaw so tissues do not block the upper airway. Snore guards are a great option for mild to moderate sleep apnea patients.

You can clean your snore guard after every use. Rinse the snore guard with lukewarm water. Then, use a soft-bristled brush and soap to clean the appliance. Once a week, soak the snore guard with a dissolvable mouthguard or denture cleaning tablets.

After cleaning your snore guard, let it dry and place it in its case. Keeping your snore guard clean will prevent bacterial buildup.

Wake Up Feeling Refreshed

Snoring affects not just the snorer but the sleep partner as well. Get more restful sleep with professional sleep apnea treatment. Contact Scott Finlay, DDS & Associates, PA of Annapolis, MD, to determine if a snore guard is right for you.

Call for sleep apnea treatment in our Annapolis, MD, dentist’s office at 410.989.7132. You can also request a dental appointment online.