Does your snoring keep your partner awake at night? While this can be an inconvenience, your snoring may be an indicator of a much bigger problem. While snoring is a normal condition for about forty-five percent of adults, twenty-five percent have a chronic and severe condition obstructing their breathing, called sleep apnea. It may surprise you, however, that you could alleviate snoring and sleep apnea at your dentist’s office.
The doctors at Walnut Pond Dental can address your snoring or sleep apnea problems with a custom dental appliance for patients living in or near Clinton, NJ. Schedule your appointment online or by calling 908-200-7007.
Major Causes of Snoring
During sleep, if the tissues and muscles in the throat are abnormally relaxed or are oversized, they can block the airway, resulting in snoring. The sounds heard are compressed air and vibrating tissues as the body is trying to breathe through a smaller or obstructed airway. However, there are many reasons for snoring including:
- A large uvula – This tissue hangs from the back of the throat. Patients with a large or longer than ordinary uvula will snore when the tissue vibrates in the airway while breathing.
- Gender – Males are most likely to have sleep apnea than women. The risk increases, however, for women with menopause.
- Hereditary – A family history of sleep apnea can be passed on to family members.
- Middle age – Sleep apnea is more common in the early twenties to middle age.
- Nasal congestion – Severe cold and allergies cause congestion, plug the nose, and increase mouth breathing. The blockage creates a vacuum in the throat, resulting in snoring as the air tries to flow.
- Overly relaxed throat muscles – Drugs, alcohol, sedatives (including over-the-counter and prescription medications) can cause the throat muscles to relax, allowing the tongue to fall back into the airway.
- Oversized adenoids and/or tonsils – Tonsils are tissues found at the back of each side of the throat. When they are larger than normal, they vibrate as air passes through the mouth.
- Problems with the nose – Snoring can also be caused by a deviated septum or other nasal problems.
- Tumors and cysts – The obstruction from a cyst or tumor can encourage snoring.
- Weight gain – Overweight patients with a BMI of 25 or higher are more likely to snore. A neck size of 16 inches or higher means the throat has more soft tissues to block the airway.
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Snoring can lead to sleep apnea as the vibrations cause the oral tissues to swell and obstruct the airways. The obstruction causes oxygen levels to drop in the blood, signaling the brain to wake the body and breathe. Some pauses may occur, followed by gasping or choking sounds. When the obstruction is moved, the body can breathe again. Even though most patients will remain asleep through this, these slight interruptions in their sleep cycle will cause sleep deprivation.
Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Choking or gasping sounds
- Decreased sex drive
- Difficulty performing day-to-day activities
- Inability to concentrate
- Loud snoring
- Low attention span
- Mood changes
- Morning headaches
- Sleepiness and fatigue during the day
- Waking up with a dry throat
When obstructive sleep apnea is not treated, additional complications can occur:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Irregular heart rate
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Ischemic heart disease
- Heart attack, stroke
How Can My Dentist Treat Sleep Apnea?
The doctors at Walnut Pond Dental can alleviate your snoring and sleep apnea by designing a custom-fitted oral appliance, called a dental night guard, depending on the severity of your condition. The appliance will keep the lower jaw in a more appropriate position, which will help open the airway and prevent obstruction. An open airway increases the flow of oxygen and creates healthy sleep cycles.
If snoring is a problem or you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, contact us to see if you qualify for a custom-designed sleep guard. To schedule your consultation at our Annandale office near Clinton, NJ, call Walnut Pond Dental at 908-200-7007.