About one in every three adults in the United States snores on a regular basis, and as many as half of all adults snore occasionally. Caused by the relaxation and collapse of soft tissues at the base of the throat, snoring ranges from quiet to loud, and it may be a problem more for those around the snorer than they themselves.
However, snoring may also be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that may contribute to a wide range of health conditions arising from interrupted sleep. Though not all snoring connects directly to sleep apnea, the potential health problems mean anyone who snores should investigate the possibility that their snoring might be harmful. In some cases, treatment may be as simple as a visit to Volterra Dental to have a custom sleep guard made for you.
The causes of snoring
Your tongue, soft palate, and uvula don’t interfere with breathing during the day, when you’re upright. Airflow through the nose and mouth is unobstructed as these tissues remain in their normal positions. For some people, these tissues remain out of the way when they lie down, relax, and fall asleep. Breathing continues unrestricted through the night.
Snoring results when these tissues collapse during sleep. Once the airways of the throat are impeded, the passage of breath can cause the soft tissues to vibrate with the changing air pressure. It’s possible to snore and yet still receive enough air that normal respiration continues through the night. If this is the case for you, then your snoring is likely not harmful.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when breathing is cut off entirely by the collapsing tissue. Your brain, sensing the interruption in breathing, sends signals to wake you slightly, so you start to breathe again. You may not wake enough to notice. In fact, sleep apnea sufferers may wake dozens of times through the night without being aware of any of these incidents.
The symptoms of sleep apnea
If you do snore, keep an eye on symptoms associated with sleep apnea, and if you notice one or more, discuss the possibility of sleep apnea with your doctor. The most common symptoms include:
- Headaches present upon waking
- Throat irritation upon waking
- Feeling tired even when sleeping eight hours
- Restlessness during the night
- Difficulty concentrating through the day
- Gasping for air and waking through the night
- Others observe your sleep interruptions
- High blood pressure
- Snoring becoming louder
How a dentist treats sleep apnea
When you lie down to sleep, it’s natural for your lower jaw to drop back from its normal position as you relax. This aggravates the soft tissue collapse behind snoring and sleep apnea. Your Volterra Dental caregiver can custom fit you with an oral appliance that holds your lower jaw forward, preventing the complete blockage of the throat.
This dental appliance resembles an athletic mouthpiece or a teeth-whitening tray, and custom fitting means it would be comfortable and unobtrusive, easy for you to wear through the night. If your snoring red