Can Your Dentist Help You Stop Snoring?
No one likes snoring. Not the person who snores, nor the person who shares his or her bed. Yet snoring happens, according to the National Sleep Foundation, about 90 million people are routinely affected by snoring. About half of us snore at least at some point in our lives, either chronically or due to an underlying condition. Men snore more than women, it tends to run in families and it becomes more prevalent the older we become.
Fortunately, there are ways that your dentist can help detect underlying conditions and help manage the symptoms of persistent snoring. People snore when airflow through the mouth and nose is obstructed. There are several reasons that people snore. A long, soft uvula and/or palate can cause snoring. Often, people who do not snore regularly will begin snoring if they suffer clogged nasal airways due to allergies, a sinus infection or even a deviated septum. Poor muscle tone in the throat and nose can also cause one to snore. Normal aging can cause the muscles in the throat and nose to relax or soften over time. Whereas a person may have been a light snorer or never snored in their youth, the condition can become worse with age.
Being overweight can result in a bigger throat tissue that causes a person to snore. Consumption of alcohol, cigarette smoking, use of sleeping pills or other substances can cause the nose and throat to relax so much that a person snores. Lastly, falling into an incredibly deep, restful sleep can cause a person to snore. Unfortunately, in some cases, as with sleep apnea, snoring can be disruptive to sleep.
Snoring can be quite disruptive for a bed partner (it only sometimes wakes the snorer up), but it can be a health hazard for the person who snores. While light snoring may not be bothersome, heavy snoring may be a sign of what is called obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep condition that experts believe is a risk factor for stroke, diabetes, heart disease and other serious health problems. Despite the frequency, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, which can cause those who have it to stop breathing several times a night. Apnea presents symptoms as choking or gasping sounds when the person snores. Special screenings conducted by sleep professionals can assess whether you suffer from sleep apnea, and to what severity. Once diagnosed, there are several options that help those with sleep apnea manage their symptoms so that they and their partners can achieve better sleep every night.