Dentist Blog

Posts for tag: snoring and sleep apnea

By Mark Makela D.D.S., PC
October 31, 2012
Category: Oral Health
YouThinkYouHaveSleepApneaWhatNow

Nearly everyone has snored at some point in life. However, if your sleeping partner routinely tells you that you suffer from this problem, you really should take action to confirm or deny your suspicions. You may be like one of the 50 to 70 million people in the US alone that suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a medical condition in which the upper airway (the back of your throat) collapses during sleep thus limiting your intake of oxygen. And this condition is serious. If left untreated, OSA can lead to a stroke, impotence, an irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, high blood pressure, and other forms of heart disease.

The first and most important step you should take if you snore is to obtain a thorough examination by both your primary-care physician and our office. We have completed specialized training in sleep medicine so that we can not only diagnose but also thoroughly treat your sleep disorders.

If you are diagnosed with this problem, relax. We have many ways we can treat your condition. One of the most common methods is to provide you with oral appliance therapy. This first line of treatment involves our making a customized oral appliance (mouthpiece) that will hold your lower jaw forward. By doing this, we can move your tongue away from the back of your throat so that your airway is less likely to get blocked while you sleep. (It is this blockage that causes the infamous snoring sound.)

Another option we may consider using to treat your sleep apnea if it is moderate to advanced is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. These machines require you to sleep with a mask over your nose and/or mouth and produce continuous pressure in your windpipe so that your tongue is forced forward away from your airway. Not only can these machines potentially eliminate your snoring, but they can also give you the restful night's sleep that you have been missing.

The last and most permanent solution for treating certain non-responsive cases of sleep apnea is surgery. This option is typically reserved for the most advanced cases to eliminate or reduce an obstruction to the airway.

Contact us today to discuss your questions about sleep apnea or to schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about sleep apnea when you continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”

By Mark Makela D.D.S., PC
September 10, 2012
Category: Oral Health
YourDentistMayBeAbleToHelpYouStopSnoring

Dentistry has ventured into the new area of sleep medicine by helping snorers — and their exasperated sleeping partners — with custom-made anti-snoring devices. These oral appliances, which resemble orthodontic retainers or sports mouthguards, keep the snorer's airway clear and the bedroom quiet. To see how they work, you have to understand the mechanics of snoring.

Snoring occurs when the upper airway (back of the throat) becomes blocked by the tongue or other soft-tissue structures, such as large tonsils or a long soft palate. The vibrating of these obstacles creates the sound we call snoring.

Snoring is often worse when sleeping on one's back because that position encourages the lower jaw to fall back and the tongue to close off the airway. This is where Oral Appliance Therapy comes in. These custom-fitted devices are designed to keep the upper airway open during sleep by pulling the lower jaw forward, which in turn brings the tongue away from the throat. Dentists, and our office in particular, are the only source for Oral Appliance Therapy.

People who snore should have a thorough examination to rule out Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a potentially dangerous condition in which airflow can be cut off completely for 10 or more seconds (“a” – without; “pnea” – breath), reducing blood-oxygen levels. Chronic, loud snoring is a common finding with OSA.

Please remember that sleep is an integral part of health and well-being. In fact, we spend about a third of our lives doing it. If you are snoring or have any sleep-related breathing disorders that are waking you or your bed partner, be sure to tell our office. There are plenty of examples of the havoc wreaked by sleep-deprived individuals. Remember the Exxon Valdez?

If you have any questions about Oral Appliance Therapy, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

To learn more about the topic of oral appliance therapy, please see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”

WhatIsTheDifferenceBetweenSnoringandSleepApnea

Nearly everyone is familiar with snoring, having either been awakened by a snoring, sleeping partner or by snoring so loudly that you wake yourself up. As if the sounds emanating from snoring weren't bad enough, snoring is no laughing matter and should never be ignored. And why? It can be a sign of other health issues.

Snoring occurs when the soft tissue structures of the upper airway (the back of your throat) collapse onto themselves, the tongue drops back and air is blocked in its movement through the mouth and nose into the lungs. These obstacles cause a vibration that produces the snoring sound. Snoring can also be caused by large tonsils, a long soft palate, a large tongue, the uvula (the tissue in the back of the throat that dangles like a punching bag), and/or fat deposits.

If snoring is more severe, it may denote a medical condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA; or just “sleep apnea”). It occurs when the upper airway collapses causing significant airflow disruption or even no airflow whatsoever for 10 seconds or more and can leave you feeling tired, depressed, irritable, as well as cause memory loss and poor concentration. But have no fear; you are not alone, as millions of people worldwide have been diagnosed with this condition. There are also numerous treatment options that we can discuss with you — should you be diagnosed with this problem.

You can learn more about sleep apnea by reading the Dear Doctor article, “Snoring & Sleep Apnea.” Or if you are ready for a thorough examination and to discuss your snoring, contact us today to schedule a consultation.