Silent Night? Not if Your Loved Ones Snore!

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to both good health and good moods.  Some people are able to sleep without being awakened by a partner’s snoring, but most people are not.  Not only can snoring lead to conflict or awkward sleeping arrangements; it could actually indicate a serious health problem!

Why Does Snoring Matter?

Snoring occurs when soft tissues in the nose and throat vibrate during breathing.  When we sleep, everything relaxes, and these tissues become limp and loose.  As air passes through with normal breathing, the tissues can flap around creating snoring sounds. 

Snoring isn’t just a nuisance, though.  It indicates that the airway is not completely open or “patent”.  Snoring does interfere with good breathing and can interrupt the flow of oxygen to your brain while you sleep.  People who snore are very likely to suffer from a medical condition known as obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. 

Why Does Sleep Apnea Matter?

The term sleep apnea describes the condition in which the body stops breathing periodically during sleep.  The word “apnea” just means no breathing.  People who have obstructive sleep apnea are not breathing because the airway is closing off sporadically throughout the night.  Sleep apnea ranges from mild to very severe.  If you notice your bed partner taking large, gasping breaths during sleep, it is very possible that he or she has sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea matters because it puts the body at a higher risk for multiple other health problems, like high blood pressure, obesity, depression, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), diabetes, high cholesterol and asthma.  Sleep is an important part of your body’s overall health.  Sleep is the time in which the cells undergo repair and restoration.  Without sleep, most health conditions steadily decline.

What Does a Dentist have to do with Sleep-Disordered Breathing?

There are multiple treatment options that aim to open the airway and induce healthy breathing during sleep.  In general, we can categorize them into the following categories: surgeries, medical devices (most commonly the CPAP breathing machines), and dental appliances.  Obviously, we are interested in the dental appliances.

Our doctors have undergone advanced training in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea with dental appliances.  The way that a dental appliance opens the airway is by gently positioning the lower jaw forward.  Snoring and apneas are more likely to occur when the jaw is open and pressed back into the throat. 

As we said earlier, snoring and obstruction occur when the tissues in the back of the mouth and throat loosen and collapse in on one another.  If you’ve ever taken a CPR course, you know that one of the ways to “open the airway” is to pull the lower jaw forward.  This tightens those loose tissues and makes an open passageway for the flow of air. 

Dental Appliances for Sleep Apnea

Since we cannot control what our jaws do while we sleep, we use a dental appliance.  When the appliance is in place, it determines how the upper and lower teeth bite together and places the lower jaw in a slightly forward position.  The appliances are adjustable to provide for maximum effectiveness and maximum comfort at the same time. 

Because these appliances do have an effect on the teeth and jaws, it is very important that you work with a trained dentist if you select this treatment option.  In rare cases, people have moved teeth and changed their bites through the unsupervised use of sleep appliances. 

More Questions about Sleep Apnea?

Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara or Dr. Summer.  They can answer any question you have about treating a sleep-disordered breathing problem with a dental appliance. 

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