It's been said before, and we'll say it again, snoring just isn't attractive leaving the snorer not only irritable but his/her/their bed partner cranky as well. Additionally, snoring may lead to sleep deprivation and sleep interruptions making it extremely difficult to achieve a restful night sleep resulting in daily fatigue.
What is Snoring?
Snoring is the sound of the uvula and soft palate vibrating against the back of the pharynx or base of the tongue. The muscles of the throat relax during sleep, and as the air moves through the constricted air passage, compounded with the vibrating soft tissues, snoring sounds are produced that are within the same frequency range of normal human conversation.
Why might snoring be significant?
Snoring may be an indication that one is suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a potentially serious medical condition if it remains untreated. It is often recommended that individuals who snore undergo overnight sleep studies to provide a definitive diagnosis.
What is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, allowing the soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. As a result, sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing up to hundreds of times a night for anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute. Individuals suffering from OSA often do not know that they are gasping for air at night as this choking episode does not wake them up. Snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, memory problems, irritability, fatigue and insomnia are all signs that you could be losing shut-eye to sleep apnea. If left untreated, sleep apnea can be a potentially life threatening condition. It can increase the risk for other serious health problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression and impotence.
How is obstructive sleep apnea treated?
Treatment modalities for sleep apnea are dictated by the extent and severity of the syndrome. For example, lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, and lifestyle habits, such as sleeping on your side rather than your back, may help reduce some of the symptoms of sleep apnea. Additionally, abstaining from consuming alcohol, especially before bed, may also aid in treating sleep apnea symptoms. Often, a Nasal Contiuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine is recommended and indicated. Considered the gold standard of care, the CPAP consists of wearing a face mask connected to a machine that directly pumps air on a nightly basis. Although this machine is extremely effective, patients often find it uncomfortable to wear and extremely noisey resulting in poor compliance and thus leaving these patients at risk of the detrimental effects associated with sleep apnea. Additionally, CPAP machines are often difficult to transport. Thus, patients often seek alternative treatments, such as oral appliances. These oral appliances, are essentially mouth guards that protrude the lower jaw (mandible) and tongue thus keeping the airway clear. What's also great about these appliances is that they can even be worn with a CPAP device.
Lauren Levi, D.M.D. individually fits and curtails these oral night guards to treat your needs. She works closely with your physicians to help manage your sleep apnea.
For more information on sleep apnea oral appliance therapy, check out Dr. Levi's posts on Warning Signs You are Losing Shut-eye to Sleep Apnea and The Link Between Melanoma and Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Are you getting the most out of sleep?
This survey may help predict your risk for sleep apnea.
ORAL APPLIANCE THERAPY
Oral appliance therapy is an effective, non-invasive treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea that fits easily into your lifestyle. A dental oral appliance looks like a sports mouth guard and is worn only during sleep. It supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway, preventing sleep apnea and snoring.
Once you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea by a sleep physician, a dentist experienced in dental sleep medicine can make a custom-fitted oral appliance using impressions and models of your teeth. Oral appliance therapy is covered by many medical insurance plans. Patients like it because it’s comfortable, easy to wear, quiet, portable, convenient for travel and easy to clean.
Treating snoring or sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy can help you feel like a new person. You will find that your symptoms, and your quality of life, can improve dramatically when you remain committed to your treatment and use it nightly. Custom-fit oral appliances can improve your sleep, restore your alertness and revitalize your health.
If you have concerns about snoring and sleep apnea, it may be time to make an appointment. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, I can recommend a sleep physician to help get you started on your path to treatment. If you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea, I can fit you with an oral appliance. My team is ready to answer your questions about obstructive sleep apnea, dental sleep medicine and oral appliance therapy.