Dentists play a role in treating both Snoring and Sleep Apnea.
Diagnosis of snoring is not a challenge.
*Manifests itself by numerous types of objectionable sounds.
Diagnosis of sleep apnea requires a sleep study (a polysomnogram), usually done at a sleep study center or at home with a home sleep study system.
*Discussion with a practitioner specializing in sleep disorders will help to determine which is indicated.
Snoring is caused by:
*Soft-tissues at the back of the throat vibrating against one another
*An obstruction in the nasal airway
*Weak throat muscles, causing the throat to relax and get narrower during sleep
*Skeletal Class II malocclusion
*Muscle relaxants such as alcohol or sedative hypnotics
*Sleeping on one’s back causes the tongue to drop back into the airway
Treatment for snoring relates to opening the narrowed breathing passage. Snoring is usually treated by dentists, since oral appliances are commonly used. However, many treatments are available:
*Anti-snoring oral appliances
*Sleep on their side not their back
*Over the counter nasal sprays
*Nasal strips or nose clips
*Positional devices (anti-snore pillows or clothing to prevent sleeping on the back)
Treatment of sleep apnea ranges through the following:
*Lose weight and quit smoking
*PAP treatments, with CPAP being the most common
*Positional devices to prevent sleeping on the back
*Surgery of several types, including maxilla-mandibular advancement
If you suspect you or your spouse have sleep apnea, or are disturbed by snoring, the dentist is a good place to start the evaluation process.