Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Is Snoring Keeping You Awake?

Here is what you need to know about Oral Appliance Therapy, the dental treatment for a medical condition.

Why Is Snoring a Problem?

Virtually all of us snore from time to time. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 25 percent of us snore regularly. For some, snoring is no more than an occasional, inconvenient habit; but chronic, heavy, loud snoring can be more serious.

Snoring usually occurs when a person’s airway at the back of the throat constricts, causing air to be inhaled at an increased speed and pressure. This results in the soft tissue in the back of the mouth vibrating, creating the snoring noise.

Simple snoring can disturb others and cause a dry mouth or sore throat. Heavy snoring is often a symptom of sleep apnea which is frequently associated with hypertension, stroke and other cardiopulmonary problems.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea afflicts several million people in North America. The most common form is obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA as it is often called. Sleep apnea is a cessation, or interruption, of breathing during sleep.

The cause of OSA is similar to that of snoring. When the airway becomes constricted enough, breathing will stop and oxygen will be blocked from the lungs. Each time breathing is blocked, oxygen in the bloodstream falls, and the heart must work harder to circulate blood. Blood pressure rises and the heart may beat irregularly or even stop.

Signs of Sleep Apnea Include:

  • Choking or stopping breathing during sleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Irresistible urge to nap or sleep during the day
  • Limbs jerk during sleep
  • Waking up tired or thirsty
  • Snoring

What is an Anti-Snoring Appliance?

It is a small comfortable, oral mouthpiece which is worn only during sleep. It looks similar to an orthodontic retainer, or an athletic mouth guard. The appliance positions the lower jaw into a forward position by means of special connectors that are attached to transparent flexible upper and lower forms. The forms are custom made to models of the mouth. The fit is excellent and comfortable. Because the tongue is connected to the lower jaw by muscles, if you move the lower jaw forward into a comfortable position, the tongue is automatically moved out of the airway, thus stopping snoring and controlling mild to moderate OSA.

Clinical trials have shown that dental appliances are up to 90 percent effective in treating simple snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea. In fact many users say they wake up feeling more rested and energetic in the mornings!

Dental appliances work by bringing the lower jaw forward, thereby holding the tongue forward.

How Do I Get An Appliance?

Anti-snoring appliances are available from specially-trained dentists, such as Dr. Black, and the custom fitting is simple and painless. First, we will discuss your sleeping habits and if necessary, refer you to a specialist for further evaluation. When you are ready for an appliance, impressions will be taken of your upper and lower teeth along with a bite registration which will help to determine how far forward to move your jaw. On the second appointment, your custom made appliance will be fitted and adjusted if necessary.

After being fitted with the appliance, you will be asked to return in a few days to check your results and make any necessary adjustments. That’s it! In three short, easy visits, you will be on your way to a more restful night’s sleep!

The following is a sleep quiz to help you rate the quality of your sleep patterns.

  • I’ve been told that I snore.
  • I’ve been told that I stop breathing while I sleep, although I don’t remember.
  • I feel tired and irritable in the morning even though I slept through the night.
  • I am having trouble controlling my weight.
  • I sweat excessively during the night.
  • I have noticed my heart pounding or beating irregularly during the night.
  • I get morning headaches.
  • I have trouble sleeping when I have a cold.
  • I have jolted awake gasping for breath during the night.
  • I am overweight.
  • I seem to be losing my sex drive.

There are many symptoms that could indicate obstructive sleep apnea. The symptoms listed here are only a partial representation and should not be the only criteria used to diagnose OSA.

If you have said yes to three or more statements, you should ask your doctor or dentist about sleep apnea.

Quick Facts About Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  • 98.5% of snorers exhibit apnic tendencies.
  • 24% of males and 18% of females suffer from snoring.
  • 60% of males and 40% of females over the age of 60 snore (female snoring increases after menopause).
  • Loudness of snoring may reach as high as 90db (Worker’s Compensation requires ear protection in workplace at 90db)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) is present during wakefulness in approximately 50% of people with sleep apnea.
  • Over long periods, sleep apnea results in intellectual and memory deterioration.

For more information or to discuss whether an appliance might be right for you, please contact our office.

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