Persistent snoring can be an annoying problem. But no matter how much it aggravates you (or your loved ones), it may be a sign of a much more serious issue. Loud, frequent snoring could actually be a symptom of a common disorder called sleep apnea.
Millions of Americans suffer from this condition every night and 3 million people each year are diagnosed. While snoring is just one of its symptoms, sleep apnea can have major complications if left untreated.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted while they sleep. It involves the frequent collapsing of the back of a person’s throat, causing snoring and inconsistent, disrupted breathing during the night. The disruption not only interferes with your breathing and your quality of sleep, but also leads to less oxygen being delivered to the brain and vital organs.
Even mild cases can have a number of negative consequences. Due to the brain being deprived of oxygen, those affected often wake up during the night (even without realizing it), sometimes hundreds of times. These short interruptions in sleep might only last seconds, but they disrupt the sleep cycle, causing fatigue, grogginess, and even depression.
Sleep apnea can also cause dry mouth, as snorers tend to sleep with their mouths open. When the mouth can’t maintain a healthy amount of saliva, it also can’t fight off dangerous bacteria, which might lead to infections of the teeth and gums.
In addition, blocked airways and poor breathing can cause nightly teeth grinding, as the body attempts to keep its airways open. People who grind their teeth at night often don’t know that they do it, only finding out when a dentist notices the signs. Chipped, cracked, or eroded teeth can result from grinding, giving dangerous bacteria more places to grow.
What can I do about it?
At My Family Dentistry, we often notice when patients have damaged teeth or other oral health problems associated with sleep apnea. If you suffer from this disorder, it’s important to seek out effective treatment. We find that many patients benefit from a custom snoring therapy appliance, which helps you breathe better while you sleep—and ultimately protects your teeth, too.
For patients who suffer from sleep apnea, Dr. Wes can prescribe sleep apnea devices like the FDA-approved Dental Crafters’ custom-fit Intraoral Snoring Therapy (IST) Appliance. This dental aid can significantly improve or even eliminate symptoms. It helps to resolve snoring and sleep apnea by repositioning the jaw and/or tongue, removing the blockage in your airways during sleep to allow more air into your lungs.
What’s the difference between devices?
Though there are many options available, sleep apnea devices fall into two main groups: those that hold the tongue forward, and those that change the position of the lower jaw. Many devices look like heavy snorkels, put constant pressure on your face, and prevent movement of the mouth and jaw.
However, we know that comfort is essential to getting deep, quality sleep, which is why the IST Appliance is fully adjustable and custom-fitted. It allows you to move your mouth while maintaining the jaw in a forward position. Better yet, it doesn’t put any additional pressure on your face while you sleep. It’s the gold standard for safe, effective, comfortable sleep apnea devices.
If you’ve been feeling excessively tired during the day, have experienced symptoms such as dry mouth, headaches, and depression, or have a loud snoring habit, come to My Family Dentistry and we can look for evidence of teeth grinding and other damage related to sleep apnea. While there are many other lifestyle choices you can make to reduce the occurrence of sleep apnea (such as regular exercise and weight loss), you may be a prime candidate for one of our custom-fitted therapy devices.
Think you or someone you love might suffer from sleep apnea? Contact our office today and we’ll help you with a solution that can give you a better night’s sleep.