In addition to the noise snoring produces, it can also be a sign of a serious condition called “obstructive sleep apnea”. If those who live with you complain about your snoring, you might want to schedule a consultation with our sleep dentist to find out if your snoring is a sign of sleep apnea.
The sounds we hear when one snores are caused by soft oral tissue vibrating in the airway. Although some people do snore loudly without episodes of apnea, many times, snoring is a symptom of this common disorder.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can affect people of any age, but it disproportionately affects middle-aged men, those with excess weight, and large neck circumferences. This condition is more common than people think and without treatment, it can cause severe sleep deprivation and a host of unwanted side effects.
OSA involves repeated episodes of breathing cessation (apnea) during rest. A person with OSA can cease breathing for up to a minute. When the brain realizes that breathing is affected, it will send waking signals to slightly rouse a sleeper, which will reinitiate the breathing cycle.
In a given night, a person with OSA can suffer with hundreds of episodes of apnea. Each apnea will interrupt their sleep – albeit slightly. These slight interruptions can prevent a person from progressing naturally through each stage of sleep, including the REM phase. Over time, untreated apneas will produce classic symptoms of sleep deprivation, impair cognition, and increase a person’s risks for other health concerns like low oxygen levels in the blood and heart disease.
Sleep apnea can be difficult for patients to detect because symptoms occur when they’re not awake. Fortunately, there is an effective way to diagnose this condition. A sleep study can detect the presence of interrupted sleep and erratic breathing. These studies can also evaluate the severity of OSA and whether a patient responds to OSA treatment.
Once a patient has been properly diagnosed with sleep apnea, he or she can seek treatment. There are a variety of treatment methods available including the use of respiratory equipment like CPAP machines, surgery, and oral appliance therapy.
Our sleep dentist offers oral appliance therapy, which is a well-tolerated and comfortable treatment method. Oral appliance therapy widens the airway to prevent the obstructions that cause episodes of apnea. This treatment method is portable, and non-invasive.
Bringing peace back into your relationship is just one of the many compelling reasons to investigate the treatment options available.