Snoring occurs when we sleep. Some people do not snore while others may snore quietly with more severe cases snoring very loudly. If you or someone you know is suffering from snoring or you are concerned about a sleep disorder you are in the right place. This section will give you important information about snoring and sleep apnea.
What is Snoring?
Snoring is caused by vibrations in the respiratory structure. It occurs when we sleep because this is the time when a certain area of the nose and back of throat relaxes. When in this relaxed state these areas also narrow which results in the air getting restricted in the air passage. The obstruction is what causes the sound.
What Causes Snoring?
There are many reasons why we snore. These fall into two categories the causes we can control and the ones we can’t.
Common causes of snoring we can control are:
- Smoking – When you smoke it causes the airway to become inflamed and causes irritation of the nasal passages.
- Weight – If you are overweight you may have extra fatty tissue in the neck area which causes snoring.
- Medications – Some medication such as sleeping pills can cause inflammation and irritation in the nasal passage and airways.
- Alcohol – Alcohol causes the brain to respond more slowly and this relaxed state can cause snoring when we sleep.
Common cause of snoring which we cannot control are:
- Age – When men hit middle age they can have softer tissue around the neck which causes the vibrations which result in snoring.
- Medical conditions – Some medical conditions such as a narrow throat or cleft palate can result in snoring.
- Allergies and Asthma – These conditions can cause the nasal passages to swell which can cause snoring.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Snoring can be a sign of the serious condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea. In mild cases, the airways only narrow and do not close. This results in shallow breathing and loud snoring. In more severe cases of OSA the airway can close fully and obstruct breathing. You will then wake with a gasp, this is your body’s way to help clear the obstruction. As it occurs when you sleep it can be difficult to get a diagnosis. If you have a partner they may be the first to hear the signs of OSA. Discuss concerns with your doctor or dentist. You will then be referred for a sleep study.
Who is at Risk Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
- This condition can affect anyone, however people who are overweight are at a higher risk. This is due to fatty tissues around the neck.
- Anyone, particularly men over the age of 40 are at risk.
- Patients who have enlarged tonsils can be at risk of OSA, this is common in children.
How Can the Dentist Help with Snoring?
Your dentist can offer a variety of treatments for snoring. One common solution is the Mandibular Advancement Device. This holds your lower jaw and tongue in place so your airway can remain open while you sleep. Your dentist will discuss this with you if it is an option and they can offer advice and treatment solutions.