Everyone snores occasionally. In most cases, light snoring is harmless. But for some, snoring may be a warning for a more serious sleep disorder.
According to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, more than 18 million Americans have undiagnosed sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening medical disorder preventing airflow during sleep—characterized by severe and disruptive snoring. Not only does sleep apnea affect the long-term health of the person snoring, but it also impacts the quality of sleep of their loved ones.
Is it snoring or sleep apnea?
Typically, snoring is caused by relaxed muscles and soft tissues in the throat and mouth, making the airway smaller. The limited space through the airway causes a vibration that results in snoring. Though everyone snores occasionally to some degree, we see it most often with:
- Excess body weight
- Alcohol consumption
- Sleep aides or sedatives
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Sleep Apnea is a life-threatening medical disorder. It occurs when tissue in the back of the throat collapses, blocking the airway and causing the body to temporarily stop breathing. When the blood-oxygen level to the heart and brain drops low enough, the body momentarily wakes up, sometimes hundreds of times per night.
In addition to excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep apnea can cause memory loss, morning headaches, irritability, depression and impaired concentration. In many cases, sleep apnea can cause higher risk of stroke and heart problems, such as heart attack, congestive heart failure and high blood pressure.
How can I prevent snoring and treat sleep apnea?
Oral Appliance Therapy is a dental devise worn while sleeping to prevent tissue from collapsing and blocking the airway. Administered by a dentist, oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment to help prevent snoring and treat mild to moderate sleep apnea.
To learn more about Oral Appliance Therapy, contact our office to schedule a free consultation. Dr. Chen will work with your sleep specialist on an oral treatment plan and design a custom-fitted dental appliance that’s right for you.