Snoring is closely associated with sleep apnea. While you may think of snoring as just an annoyance or peculiarity, it can actually cause significant harm when caused by sleep apnea. Below we have provided some information on snoring and its risks and causes. If you would like to learn more about snoring or sleep apnea, we invite you to contact Hanosh Family Dentistry in Paradise soon.

What Causes Snoring?

As we sleep, the soft tissues and muscles of the mouth and throat relax. This tends to make your airway smaller. Sometimes the tongue will fall back into the throat, thus obstructing and blocking the airway. As a result of the decrease in airway space, the velocity of the incoming air increases as you breathe. The soft tissues may begin to vibrate as the air velocity increases. We recognize these audible vibrations as “snoring.” In addition to an unpleasant sound, snoring can also damage the tissues by causing edema and inflammation, which further narrows the airway.

Some of the most common causes of snoring include:

  • Menopause
  • Large tonsils
  • Supine body position (lying face up)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Excessive flabby tissue at the throat
  • A long soft palate or uvula
  • Nasal congestion from allergies, colds, or cartilage deformities within the nose

The most common cause of snoring is actually a tongue muscle that relaxes too deeply during sleep. An extremely relaxed tongue muscle will allow the tongue to be sucked into the airway with each breath you take.

Is Snoring Harmful?

It can be. Aside from possibly negatively affecting personal relationships, new research suggests that snoring and sleep apnea can also lead to several overall health problems. Some of these problems including life-threatening disorders such as:

  • Cardiovascular disorders
  • Hypertension/ high blood pressure
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Depression
  • Memory impairment
  • Dementia
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

Because snoring tends to reduce the amount of deep, restorative sleep you get during the night, it can result in extreme tiredness throughout the following day. This fatigue can negatively affect your intellectual, physical, and personal performance during your day-to-day activities, including work.

Taking into account a snorer’s children and spouse, it has been estimated that as many as 160 million people in North America alone are negatively affected by snoring. Snoring may create spousal separations as well as the sleep deprivation of those closest to the snore, which can cause strained relationships and daytime tiredness if left untreated.

Airway obstruction can also cause the heart rate to decrease, thus lowering blood oxygen levels. The airway obstruction will not go away until the blood oxygen levels become so low that the brain sends a signal to your body to release adrenaline and prevent suffocation. In most cases, the airway obstruction is broken with a gulp or gasp for air and, because of the adrenaline, an increased heart rate.

How to Prevent Snoring

Today, lifestyle changes, over-the-counter products, pharmacological treatments, surgery, and mandibular advancement devices (MAD) are used to treat and prevent snoring. The most effective way to prevent snoring and keep the airway open while you sleep is to hold the tongue and/or jaw forward. By preventing the tongue muscle from blocking the airway, you can better keep the airway open. This will allow the air that you breathe to travel slower and reduce the vibrations in the throat, thus reducing or even eliminating snoring.

Dental appliances (oral appliances) are quickly becoming the preferred snoring treatment. Increasingly, physicians and qualified dentists, such as Dr. Hanosh, are prescribing and managing the use of snoring appliances. Many of these dental devices are FDA-approved and designed to move and support the tongue and jaw in a forward position. Also known as mandibular appliances, these dental devices are portable, safe, and easy to wear in most cases.