If you snore, or share your bedroom with someone who snores, you know how it can disrupt a good night’s sleep. Snoring may be occasional and harmless, or it may be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). If that is the case, you will be experiencing daytime fatigue, decreased concentration, and a general feeling of poor health.
If you or your partner suffers from snoring and you suspect sleep apnea might be the cause, please don't hesitate to contact Exceptional Dentistry: 563-556-2711. Our dentists serve patients from Galena, Illinois, and Iowa communities including Davenport and Cedar Rapids from our office in Dubuque.
Why We Snore
Snoring is the result of the airway being partially blocked. The sound of snoring comes from the soft tissues vibrating at the back of the throat. Either the tongue falls back into the airway during sleep and partially blocks it or throat tissue collapses into the airway.
With minor snoring, enough air may pass through to allow the snorer to receive adequate oxygen. Some individuals snore all their lives and do not experience any major adverse health problems.
OSA sufferers stop breathing many times each hour, sometimes for ten seconds or more each time. It is easy to imagine how this disruptive pattern could affect a good night’s sleep. Chronic OSA deprives the body of oxygen and you wake up to gasp for air, then fall asleep again.
Sleep apnea sufferers are not always aware their sleep is repeatedly disrupted. Some sufferers choke or gag as they struggle to get oxygen, but in the morning, they may not remember. Usually, the sleeping partner is first to note the affected person’s difficulties. Sometimes a visit to the family doctor with concerns about unusual daytime fatigue brings the issue to the forefront.
Sleep Apnea Risks
Left untreated, OSA is life-threatening, since the heart and brain may be damaged due to a lack of oxygen. In many cases of OSA, more serious health problems are the result, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Increased stroke risk
- Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD)
- Morning headaches
- Impaired concentration
CPAP to Treat Sleep Apnea
A common treatment for OSA is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). It is a machine that delivers pressurized air through a mask worn on the face while sleeping. The CPAP machine is a very effective treatment for OSA. However, the device can be noisy, cumbersome, bulky, uncomfortable, and irritating to facial skin. Therefore, people attempting treatment with CPAP often give up before they experience the benefits.
Oral Appliance: Mandibular Advancement Splint
If a person has mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, an oral appliance can be considered as first line treatment. At Exceptional Dentistry, we recommend sleep apnea oral appliances to reduce or eliminate snoring. These custom-fitted oral appliances are similar to an orthodontic retainer, and are worn during sleep to treat snoring and OSA. It fits over the upper and lower teeth like a mouthguard.
Unlike a mouthguard, an oral appliance for sleep apnea is a precision instrument, clinically tested to perfectly position your lower jaw slightly forward. It tightens the tissue at the back of the throat and prevents it from collapsing. When your airway remains open, breathing remains unobstructed, preventing the heavy snoring, choking and sleep disruption that accompanies OSA.
Studies prove oral appliances can be very effective treatment for sleep apnea. If you would like to know more about this modern snore prevention technique, please call 563-556-2711 or contact Exceptional Dentistry online to schedule a personal consultation. Our office serves the Dubuque, Dyersville and Davenport, Iowa, area, as well as Galena, Illinois.