Do you feel sleepy during the day? Do you wake up with a headache or feel as if you’ve gotten little or no sleep? Do people around you complain about your snoring–even if they’re in the next room? If that’s the case, then you can use the help of a sleep dentist. A sleep dentist can treat snoring and a related condition called sleep apnea that causes you to stop breathing during sleep.
Sleep dentists have extensive training in the treatment of snoring and sleep apnea. We are lucky to have a partnership with an elite sleep dentist at River Edge Dental that can offer sleep dentistry to our patients. To learn how a sleep dentist can help you, please call (845) 783-6466 today for an appointment at Harriman Family Dental.
What Causes Snoring
Snoring can be caused by any obstruction in your airway that prevents your body from drawing enough air in when you breathe. The constriction in the airway creates a turbulent airflow that vibrates your tissues. This vibration causes the sound that we hear as snoring. Obstructions can occur at any point in the airway, including:
- Top of the mouth
- Behind the tongue
Although many people tend to blame the nose and structures like the uvula for snoring, the loudest snoring and that most likely to be associated with sleep apnea is related to the tongue and throat.
Dangers of Snoring
Although people tend to discount snoring as a minor nuisance, it can actually be a very serious problem. Snoring can cause:
- Loss of sleep for you and those around you
- Atherosclerosis (hardened arteries)
- Increase risk of car accidents
- Domestic disputes and violence
You might think you’re sleeping soundly when you’re snoring, but you’re probably not. Not only are you short on air, but you can actually be awakened by the sound of your snoring, even if you don’t know it.
The vibrations from snoring can cause tiny injuries to your arteries. These injuries turn into scars, which can harden your arteries and cause the accumulation of plaque that can break off and cause a stroke.
Because you’re not sleeping well, you have an increased risk of falling asleep at the wheel, which can lead to car accidents. And because snoring disrupts sleep for you and others in your household, it can lead to fights and violence.
Is It Sleep Apnea?
And probably the most significant danger of snoring is its link to sleep apnea. In sleep apnea, your airway isn’t just constricted, it’s actually cut off. Your own tissues are literally strangling you. When this occurs, your brain senses the oxygen shortage, tells your heart to pump harder, and wakes you up enough to restore breathing. This can happen hundreds of times a night, even though you might not know it.
Instead, you might notice sleep apnea symptoms like:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Waking with a headache
- Waking feeling unrested
- Waking up to urinate
- Weight gain or inability to lose weight
- Inability to concentrate
- Loss of motivation or interest
- Memory problems
- Sadness or low mood
If you have a sleeping partner, they will likely report that you snore and that your snores may even end in a choking sound. Your doctor may diagnose you with conditions that are related to or confused with sleep apnea, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Low testosterone
You may or may not have these conditions since they are sometimes misdiagnosed in people with sleep apnea.
Dangers of Sleep Apnea
If you have sleep apnea, it is vital to get it treated. People with sleep apnea have twice the risk of death compared to people without sleep apnea. The causes of death for people with sleep apnea include:
- Car accidents
- Heart disease
Fortunately, with treatment sleep apnea risks can be significantly diminished. Unfortunately, the most commonly prescribed treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP. Although CPAP is very effective, many people find that they can’t tolerate it, and don’t use it. This means that they are still at risk for all the dangers of sleep apnea.
Comfortable, Convenient, Effective Treatment
However, if you are looking for a different approach to treating sleep apnea, a dentist can treat it with an oral appliance that repositions your jaw to hold your airway open. This is easy to use, comfortable, and in the end it’s just as effective as CPAP.