By Dr. Frank Maratta, DMD
December 18, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Most of us don’t think of snoring as something to be overly concerned about, but frequent, loud snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea. Millions of people suffer from sleep apnea, a constriction of the airway from collapsing throat tissues and/or the tongue blocking the airway during sleep.
Even though sleep apnea is treatable, it often goes unrecognized. Untreated sleep apnea can be dangerous and detrimental to your health, making it vital to visit your dentist at New Haven Prosthodontics, P.C. if you suspect that you or a loved one might have sleep apnea. Oral appliances can be custom fit to open the airway during sleep, helping to eliminate sleep apnea and snoring symptoms.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep-related breathing disorder that prevents airflow during sleep. OSA occurs when the tissue in the back of the throat collapses and blocks the airway, which keeps air from getting into the lungs. When your blood-oxygen level drops low enough, the body wakes up. It happens so quickly that the sleeper may not even remember the arousal. Waking up hundreds of times a night can make a person feel very tired the next day, not to mention disrupting the normal sleep patterns of those in your household.
Sleep apnea patients are more likely to suffer from strokes and heart problems, as well as a higher incidence of work and driving-related accidents. The risk of sleep apnea increases with weight gain because excess fat in the back of the throat can narrow the airway. There are three types of sleep apnea:
- Central – the upper airway is open, but no oxygen is getting into the system.
- Obstructive – the lungs and the diaphragm are functioning normally, but no oxygen is entering the system because there is an obstruction in the upper airway.
- Mixed – this is a combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea.
The signs and symptoms of OSA include snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, gasping or choking during the night, non-refreshed sleep, fragmented sleep, clouded memory, irritability, personality changes and morning headaches.
Don’t Lose Sleep Over Snoring
Snoring, often times a symptom of sleep apnea, is caused from the vibration at the back of the throat, and dental appliances can sometimes help to minimize or eliminate the problem. In these instances, diagnosis is vital because snoring alone does not automatically signify a serious problem. For basic snorers, a dental appliance can provide relief because it is designed to reposition the jaw, muscles, tissue and tongues. The appliance is used to help breathing become less labored, giving a person more room to breathe quietly.
The severity of snoring varies from person to person and case to case. Snoring can be a mild nuisance that disturbs your sleep for a moment or it can be symptoms of a more serious disorder called sleep apnea. You can make positive lifestyle changes to minimize your snoring by:
- Losing weight
- Quitting smoking
- Getting treatment for allergies if you have them
- Limit or avoid alcohol use and sedatives
- Sleep on your side instead of your back
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliances are worn in the mouth to treat snoring and sleep apnea. These devices are similar to orthodontic retainers or sports mouth guards and maintain an open, unobstructed airway. Oral appliances work in several ways, including:
- Repositioning the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula
- Stabilizing the lower jaw and tongue
- Increasing the muscle tone of the tongue
With the help of your New Haven dentists, Dr. Frank Maratta and Dr. David Kusovitsky, your snoring and sleep apnea can be treated with the use of dental devices to open your airways. No longer do you have to lose sleep over snoring or sleep apnea. Consult your dentists at New Haven Prosthodontics for diagnosis and treatment options to alleviate your symptoms.