If you snore, it is something we’re often a little embarrassed about, but if you do, you’re certainly in good company. It is estimated that one in four women, and one in three Canadian men, snore on a regular basis.
Other than a possible annoyance for spouses and sleeping partners, what’s the big deal anyway? And, how would your dentist be able to help?
We’re glad you asked.
Snoring – It’s Not Just Annoying
Snoring happens because your airway becomes temporarily blocked as you sleep, typically due to soft tissues in the mouth, or the tongue, and the soft palate at the back of the throat. It can be caused by allergic reactions, a sinus infection, weak muscles and structures in the throat and neck, aging, and other problems or issues. The noise comes from the vibrations as the air forces its way through to exist as you breathe out. All by itself, it’s not necessarily a problem. Sleep apnea, however, is.
• Sleep apnea – or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – is linked to snoring.
• Sleep apnea occurs when breathing actually stops for a few seconds.
• Constant snoring with short pauses in between is an indication of sleep apnea.
• It is a serious condition that can have serious effects from chronic fatigue to heart problems.
What Can My Dentist Do?
Your dentist can help you determine the cause of your snoring, and whether you should be concerned about sleep apnea. If you have questions about snoring, then try to gather as much information as you can for your dentist, including the timing – is it constant or occasional? – sounds that you may make, such as gasping or choking, the rhythm of snoring, and anything else you can add. Your dentist can help you with a few options.
• Your dentist can fit you with an Intra-Oral Device or IOD, also called a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD), or Mandibular Repositioning Splint (MRS). This is a plastic device that brings the lower jaw forward, thereby keeping the airway open and reducing the likelihood of snoring. It will be customized and moulded to your mouth.
• You may be referred for a sleep study or polysomnogram, or other test which will analyze your sleep patterns and vital signs.
• A Continuous positive airway pressure therapy or CPAP machine is used in serious cases of sleep apnea. This machine increases air pressure in your throat to avoid the soft tissue collapse that causes snoring.
What Can I Do?
There are some measures you can take on your own to reduce your risk of snoring and sleep apnea.
• Weight loss – extra weight can involve the neck and place stress on the structures of the throat.
• Avoid alcohol and sedatives – these often change your sleep patterns, so avoiding these substances, especially at night, can help.
• Sleep on your side – sleeping on your back exacerbates the problem. A pillow at your back can help support you as you lie on your side.
If you are looking for advice on snoring, or any aspect of dental health or dental hygiene, your dentist is the right person to ask. You’ll find the answer at Dr. Robert Axelrad’s Dental Office in Brampton, ON.
If you’re looking for a well-regarded and highly skilled dentist in the Brampton area, make an appointment with Dr. Robert Axelrad by calling (905)-791-3867. Visit our website to learn more about our dental services.