Most of us know someone who snores, or perhaps we snore ourselves. Snoring occurs when the air we breathe in is obstructed in our airway. The air is not allowed to freely flow and causes the vibrating noises, or snoring sounds. While some people tend to joke about it, snoring should not be made light of.
So Snoring Is Noisy; What's the Big Deal?
Aside from having a grumpy bed partner who loses sleep or perhaps resorts to sleeping in a different room, snoring can be an indicator of a larger problem. It is a symptom of something called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Let’s break down that term: Apnea means the absence of breathing. Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing for over 10 seconds at a time while sleeping. Add the word obstructive if the apnea is caused by a physical obstruction of the upper airway.
The obstruction can be caused by your tongue falling back when you sleep, or collapsed soft tissue at the back of you mouth. If the obstructed airway doesn’t allow air in, you stop breathing. Your body is then forced to wake up to take a breath. This disrupts your sleep, and can lead to feeling very tired. As well, when your body stops breathing, your blood oxygen levels decrease, causing your heart to work harder, which then increases your blood pressure.
Some symptoms associated with OSA include:
- Morning headaches
- Acid reflux
- Difficulty concentrating
Left untreated, OSA puts you at a greater risk for stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity. A note about obesity: While being overweight does increase your risk of having OSA, be careful not to judge a book by its cover. You do not have to be overweight to have OSA – long, thin necked people can suffer from it, too.
I Know I Snore. Now What?
Some people who snore do just that and only that. They make a lot of noise, but do not have any apnea. For others, snoring can be a symptom of OSA.
How do you know? The best way is to have a specialized sleep study performed. This will analyze your sleep patterns, snoring and check for apnea.
Where Does a Dentist Fit in This Picture?
Aside from some of the symptoms already mentioned, there are also oral signs that are indicators of someone’s risk for OSA. Some dentists have special training to help recognize the signs and symptoms. If you are thought to be snoring or have a sleep breathing disorder, a specialized sleep study can be arranged through the dental office.
Based on the results, sleep apnea treatment recommendations are made which may include a continuous positive airway device (CPAP) or a specialized dental sleep appliance. A dental sleep appliance is valuable in helping people who snore, have milder cases of OSA, or for those who cannot wear a CPAP. The appliance is custom fit to your mouth and rests over your teeth. It is designed to gently bring your bottom jaw forward, thereby open up your airway.
If you or someone you love snores, consider discussing it with your dentist. It may very well lead to a more peaceful sleep, or even saving a life. Find out how Evolution Dental can help by calling 403-208-9965 today for service in the Calgary, Alberta, area.