By: Jenny Humbertson, RDH
Snoring seems physically harmless, more so just an inconvenience to your sleeping partner. However, did you know that snoring can be a red flag for a much more serious, and sometimes fatal, condition called obstructive sleep apnea?
Snoring is defined as, “when the jaw opens and the tongue falls into the back of the throat, the airway narrows, forcing air through the small opening. This creates vibrations in the back of the throat known as snoring”. Sleep apnea occurs, “when the airway completely collapses, blocking airflow into the lungs. The harder one tries to breathe, the tighter the airway seals. The obstruction persists until the brain partially awakens the person. Unconsciously, they will close their jaw, returning the tongue and throat to a normal position”. Sleep apnea has a particular cycle, which can repeat itself 50 times or more during a single hour of sleep! The cycle goes like this:
Falling Asleep –> Jaw Relaxing –> Airway Collapsing –> Unconsciously Awakening with a Gasp –> Falling Back Asleep
Shockingly, studies have shown that 45% of adults snore, and 75% of snorers have obstructive sleep apnea! Both the awakenings caused by the sleep apnea and the oxygen deprivation can lead to additional health problems. Some examples include:
– Chronic Sleepiness
– Heart Attacks
– High Blood Pressure
Thankfully, there are some natural ways to help stop snoring:
– Avoiding alcohol- relaxation of the muscles makes snoring worse!
– Changing your sleeping position
– Losing weight (but skinny people snore too!)
– Good sleep habits- Get enough sleep, and don’t wait until you are exhausted to hit the hay!
– Open nasal passages- You can use nasal spray, cleanses, and strips
– Avoid Allergens- Nasty dust mites like to make their home in our pillows… change and/or wash pillows routinely
– Stay Hydrated- A moist mouth and nasal membrane keeps them from sticking!
In addition, our dentists at Cascades Center for Dental Health can custom fit your needs with an appliance that will keep your jaw positioned forward throughout the night to keep the airway from collapsing, thus giving you and your partner a better, more restful sleep. At our office, making a custom fit snore guard usually consists of 2 short chair-side appointments.
Appointment 1: impressions of top teeth, bottom teeth and how the teeth bite together. Generally 20 minutes.
3 weeks later:
Appointment 2: appliance delivery, fitting and care instructions. Generally 20 minutes.
The oral appliance is similar to an athletic mouth guard, custom fit to be worn while sleeping. Snore guard appliances help many people sleep better; most of my patients swear by them! It can have a positive effect on your full household, resulting from reducing stress from the lack of a restful sleep. I have heard several of our patient’s, spouses and family members refer to the Silent Nite and Tap3 appliances as, “Miracle Worker!”, “Marriage Therapy!” & “Life Saver!”
Will this help your friend, spouse, parent, or sibling? — Do they snore? — Then the answer is YES!