Friday, April 15, 2016

Snoring and Sleep Apnea

It is estimated that 30-50% of patients snore while sleeping- the incidence of snoring increases with age and men snore more frequently than women. Most people are unaware that there is professional help available for snoring.

A related condition, sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition where the breathing space in the back of the mouth is closed off. OSA causes significant pauses in breathing and can be life threatening.

Dentists are associated with the treatment of both snoring and OSA. However, a team approach is a safe and effective means to treat these conditions. Dentists work with dental laboratories; sleep technicians and board certified sleep physicians as a team to curb snoring and sleep apnea.

Causes of snoring are partial or complete closure of airway is the cause of snoring as seen in:
  • Obstruction of nasal airway
  • Weak throat muscles
  • Lower jaw being too far back closing off throat
  • Sleeping posture- sleeping on back causes closure of breathing space
  • Fat accumulation in and around throat
  • Loss of muscle tone related to aging
  • Use of muscle relaxants including alcohol and sedative hypnotics

  • Snoring Effects:
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Social and marital challenges
  • Increased potential for heart attack and stroke
  • Snoring can be reduced or eliminated with relative ease but the associated condition of OSA needs more consideration. The pauses in breathing in children and adults happen between 5- 30 times an hour and causes daytime fatigue, slow reaction time and vision problems. About 15% of the American population suffers from sleep apnea. It is a serious condition that can be life threatening. Since OSA is associated with snoring, it must be addressed as part of the treatment for snoring.

    Types of Sleep Apnea:
  • Obstructive sleep Apnea- occurs when soft tissue in the back of throat relaxes during sleep and blocks airway and causes loud snoring
  • Central Sleep apnea- much less common condition and occurs when the nervous system fails to signal the muscles that control breathing
  • Complex Sleep apnea- a combination of OSA and central sleep apneas and is associated with significant medical problems
  • All forms of sleep apnea often go unnoticed and can become serious when left untreated over time.

    Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatments:
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
  • Anti snoring oral appliances / mouthpiece for snoring
  • Surgery
  • Medications
  • Losing Weight
  • Stopping Smoking
  • Sleeping on Side
  • Over the Counter Nasal Sprays
  • Nasal Strips or Clips
  • Anti Snoring Pillows
  • CPAPs and anti snoring devices are the most used and most successful treating options. Severity of snoring and OSA condition is measured by a sleep monitoring device to select appropriate treatment. Assuming that the OSA is not severe, sleep apnea dental appliances can easily control snoring and OSA.

    Potential Side Effects of Oral Appliances:
  • Jaw/facial pain
  • Bite Changes
  • Tooth Pain
  • Jaw Joint Pain
  • Drooling
  • Dry Mouth
  • Sound, restful and peaceful sleep is possible. Cost of our sleep apnea dental appliances, or our mouthpiece for snoring are very minimal considering the huge benefits of sound sleep and increased productivity. 

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