Most people have a pretty lighthearted view of snoring – just think about the countless snoring jokes you’ve seen in TV shows and movies. But if you snore frequently and loudly enough to disturb your partner and others in your household, chances are they don’t find it funny. The trouble is, even though it’s annoying, many people don’t consider snoring a serious problem – at least not one that requires professional attention. However, the truth is that snoring can be damaging to your overall health, especially if it’s a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
What Causes Snoring?
Snoring usually happens because of oral and throat tissues collapsing into your airway as you sleep. This partial obstruction forces your breath to pass through a much smaller airway, which leads to increased air pressure that vibrates your throat tissues, making a loud noise. Besides the noise, snoring can force you to work harder to breathe while you sleep, which can have serious and immediate effects on your overall health and well-being and lead to premature aging.
Problems Related to Snoring
Sometimes your airway can become completely blocked, which can prevent you from being able to breathe. Known as obstructive sleep apnea, this condition causes you to stop breathing momentarily until your body is forced to wake up and breathe again. This cycle can repeat itself (sometimes hundreds of times a night), stopping you from reaching the deep levels of sleep that you need to rest and rejuvenate.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is defined by pauses in breathing or episodes of shallow breathing during sleep. These patterns are often followed by loud snoring which can disrupt both your sleep as well as the peoples around you. This sleep disordered breathing can have potentially serious complications due to abnormal respiratory patterns.
Three Types of Sleep Apnea
1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea
This is the most common form of sleep apnea. OSA occurs when your throat muscles relax. These muscles then block your airway causing pauses in breathing as you are unable to inhale correctly.
2. Central Sleep Apnea
This sleep disorder occurs when your brain doesn’t send signals to the muscles that control your breathing. This type of sleep apnea usually occurs as a result of other conditions and is not as common as OSA.
3. Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome
Complex sleep apnea can also be known as treatment-emergent sleep apnea. It’s a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
The Importance of Proper Airway Function
From birth until well into adulthood, your airway is an important gateway into your overall health. During infancy, the development of the airway can be influenced by the use of bottles and pacifiers, as well as finger or thumb-sucking and lip-tucking. Other factors include muscle habits such as mouth-breathing and reverse swallowing, which can negatively impact the forming of the airway in the future. When not addressed, these factors can lead to chronic sleep breathing disorders, such as sleep apnea, as well a bunch of other complications.
Airway Obstruction and Behaviour Disorders in Children
This is the story of Connor Deegan, a 10 year old boy who displayed aggressive, temperamental and even suicidal behaviour because of sleep and breathing disorders.
How Can an At Home Sleep Study Help Me?
To diagnose sleep apnea, patients usually spend a night or two in a sleep study to be observed by a team of sleep experts. For a more convenient and comfortable experience, we offer an at home sleep study that helps you assess your risks of sleep apnea while sleeping comfortably in your own bed. A take-home sleep apnea test is a simple monitoring device that tracks your oxygen levels, breathing and breathing effort while it is being worn.
Once you have taken part in this test, you will then consult with Dr. Lawson regarding the next steps for your treatment.
Can I Use a Snoring Mouthpiece to Help with My Sleep Apnea?
The good news is that many patients can find relief from snoring and obstructive sleep apnea with a small, comfortable, custom-designed oral appliance (commonly called a mouthpiece). Unlike the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine that is often prescribed for sleep apnea, this custom-made mouthpiece fits over your teeth to support your lower jaw and help keep your airway open.
We now also offer Panthera sleep devices, as well as TAP appliances, snoring and other myofunctional appliances. We can provide you with temporary sleep appliances while you complete your dental work, and they can be made on the spot!
Visit Lawson Dental for Your Sleep Apnea Consultation
If you suffer from snoring or believe that you may have sleep apnea, then seek treatment as soon as possible to address the threat to your overall health. To schedule a consultation or sleep study, call Lawson Family Dentistry in Urbandale, IA, today at 515-278-4366.