Sleep Apnea & Snoring Relief
Snoring may be a warning sign. Talk to your local Smile Source dentist to find out more.
We all know snoring as a loud, harsh breathing sound during sleep. More than just a nuisance, snoring can be a health hazard and a warning sign of something more serious—a medical condition called sleep apnea.
Because this takes place when you are asleep, you may not even realize you are at risk. What you may hear from your partner is, “You are a noisy sleeper!” Or you may notice frequent nighttime runs to the bathroom, morning headaches, or daytime irritability, tiredness, or depressed feelings.
Set up an appointment today with a dentist in your area to find out if your health is at risk.
Is There a Risk From Snoring?
Snoring is actually obstructed breathing while you sleep. It can interfere with your ability to get a good night sleep, cause daytime drowsiness, and is related to cardiovascular disease. Loud, intense snoring is a key indicator of a serious medical condition called sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a surprisingly common condition marked by interrupted breathing while you sleep. It is a chronic condition that interferes with rest and harms your health. In addition to loud snoring, obvious signs include pauses in breathing and gasping or choking sounds.
The most common form is called obstructive sleep apnea in which the soft tissue and muscles in the back of your throat go slack, narrowing the breathing passage. Common symptoms include choking and gasping sounds while sleeping, snoring loud enough to wake others, and pauses in breathing at night.
If you suspect obstructive sleep apnea, talk to your local dentist about the many treatment options.
The Risks of Sleep Apnea
During episodes of sleep apnea, your breathing is interrupted or constricted, preventing your body from getting enough oxygen. That can be dangerous to your health in many ways including:
- Increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease
- Increasing your risk of obesity or diabetes
- Increasing your risk of heart failure
- Causing an irregular heartbeat
- Increasing daytime drowsiness to dangerous levels
Treatments for Sleep Apnea
There are many ways to treat sleep apnea based on the severity of your symptoms. For some, lifestyle adjustments may improve the situation. For moderate to serious sufferers of sleep apnea, there are other options including the use of mouthpieces, medical devices, or surgery.
Lifestyle changes may help improve mild conditions. Your dentist may recommend losing weight; adjusting your sleeping position from your back to your side; avoiding alcohol and smoking; and treating underlying medical conditions such as sinus problems.
Mouthpieces can offer relief by opening the lower jaw and adjusting the tongue to help keep your airways open while you sleep. Your dentist may refer to it as an oral appliance and will custom fit it to your mouth.
Breathing devices may be recommended for moderate to severe cases. Referred to as continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machines, these machines use gentle pressure to keep airways open.
Surgery is an option to widen breathing passages. This may involve the use of advanced medical technologies or treatments to shrink, tighten, or remove excess tissue in the throat.
Who Is at Risk for Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common condition that can affect anyone, even children. However, about half of sufferers are overweight. Men are twice as likely to develop this as women, and risk increases with age. Some people have airways that are naturally narrow, while other times sinus troubles or enlarged tonsils can reduce airflow. And certain substances such as alcohol, sedatives, and medications can also impact the airway.
It is important to talk to your dentist about both your medical and family history to determine your risk for this condition.