Sleep Dentistry

Snoring is one of the most underrated causes of chronic exhaustion and other sleep disorders. If you’ve tried every sort of DIY solution to your snoring and it’s still causing you sleep disturbances, fatigue, and sleep apnea, you might want to ask a dental health specialist how a custom oral appliance can help.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

This sleep disorder describes a brief interruption in someone’s breathing during sleep. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), though there are three types of sleep apnea in total. The main difference between them is that OSA occurs when the upper airway remains blocked (partially or entirely) during sleep. Snoring is one of the most prevalent symptoms of OSA.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs in about 25% of men and nearly 10% of women. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Snoring
  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
  • Restlessness during sleep
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon awakening
  • Headaches

What Causes Snoring?

Before we dive into the remedies for snoring, let’s explore what causes it. Snoring is a result of obstructed airflow through the mouth and nose. This obstruction can occur for a number of reasons, like:

  • Narrowed nasal passages: Issues with your nasal passages or sinuses can cause snoring. For example, some people may find that they only snore when they are sick or suffering from seasonal allergies. Those with a deviated septum or nasal polyps may also snore frequently.
  • Lack of muscle tone: Poor muscle tone can cause the throat and tongue muscles to become too relaxed during sleep. When that happens, the muscles can collapse, fall back, and obstruct the airway. This is more likely to occur in patients who take sedatives such as sleeping pills.
  • Enlarged tissues: Enlarged tonsils or adenoids may cause you to snore, as well. Patients who are overweight can develop extra soft tissue in the throat or around the airway, which can also lead to snoring.
  • Genetic factors: If someone has excess tissues around the airway (like a long uvula or soft palate), it can cause the passageway to narrow & result in snoring.

Treatment for Sleep Apnea

Many people may not realize that a dentist can play a crucial role in snoring prevention. During your routine cleaning appointments, dental hygienists look for potential signs of sleep apnea in your mouth. If they find any, they may ask you if you have any symptoms or trouble sleeping and discuss potential solutions with you.

After an initial consultation and an at-home sleep study, your dentist will present you with the best options for you. Often, the first line of defense against snoring is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. A CPAP machine may not work for you for various reasons. If it doesn’t, or if you have mild-to-moderate sleep apnea, oral appliance therapy is the next best option.

The American Sleep Association (ASA) recommends patients wear a mouthpiece to improve their sleep apnea. A custom appliance fits comfortably over the teeth and helps to keep the tongue away from the back of the throat. These appliances even help with teeth grinding or Bruxism.
An example of a custom guard is a mandibular advancement device (MAD) that will gently move the lower jaw forward into a more favorable position – preventing the soft tissues from obstructing the airway.

How Do I Know if Oral Appliance Therapy is Right For Me?

If you suspect that you have a snoring problem, severe teeth grinding, or sleep apnea, you should visit your dentist for advice. By examining the conditions of your mouth, throat, and teeth, your dentist can gather more information on your risks of snoring or sleep apnea.

At All in the Family Dental, we are committed to providing comprehensive care to our patients, which includes a good night’s sleep. If you could benefit from our sleep apnea program, please give us a call today!