Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Snoring and sleep apnea are common problems people have that affects how well they sleep at night. These symptoms are often associated with the wrong diagnoses. Snoring and sleep apnea are often lumped together, or mistaken for one another, even though they are two separate disorders. It’s important to note that while all snoring is not caused by sleep apnea, sleep apnea is considered to be sleep disorder that can affect your dental health.

Snoring and Sleep Apnea – Two Different Things

Snoring and sleep apnea are often associated together because snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea. However, when someone snores, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they suffer from sleep apnea. Snoring can be caused by a number of things, while sleep apnea is a sleep disorder. So how do you know which you are dealing with?

Snoring – There are many causes of snoring. Here are some of the most common:

  • Weight – Being overweight can cause snoring. Excess fat pushes the tissues inside the mouth and throat closer together, constricting the airways and causing snoring.
  • Alcohol – Alcohol consumption can cause snoring because alcohol relaxes the muscles. As the throat muscles relax, the airway closes more tightly than usual.
  • Uvula Size – The size of your uvula (pink tissue that hangs down in the back of your mouth) can cause snoring. If it is too long, it can block your airways while sleeping.

Sleep Apnea – Sleep apnea occurs when the supportive muscles of the soft palate are too relaxed. The uvula, tonsils, and sides of the throat are all affected, causing the airway to tighten, and potentially shut completely. People with sleep apnea are at risk of not breathing while they sleep. This results in many sleepless nights, as it can occur up to 30 times per hour.

There are many factors that can cause sleep apnea, including:

  • Weight
  • Family history
  • Adenoid or tonsil enlargement
  • Smoking
  • Nasal congestion

Oral Appliance

Mandibular Advancement Device / Oral Appliance

Problems Caused by Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea doesn’t only affect breathing. It is a serious condition that can cause problems for your entire system. It can cause:

  • High blood pressure
  • Liver problems
  • Medication problems
  • Chronic fatigue

Getting Treated

As a certified neuromuscular dentist, Dr. Barney is qualified to treat sleep apnea and snoring problems. Treatment options depend upon the individual, and include lifestyle changes and other medical treatments from ENT specialists. Dr. Barney can eliminate snoring and relieve symptoms of sleep apnea using a mouth guard designed specifically for you. This device opens up the airway by pushing your jaw forward, keeping the surrounding tissue from blocking the air passage.

Q: How do I know if I have sleep apnea or if I just snore?
A: Since sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose, it is best to get professional advice. Seeing a neuromuscular dentist like Dr. Barney, as well as an ENT doctor, can help determine the root cause of your snoring.

Q: Is the mouth guard a permanent solution to sleep apnea?
A: This depends on the individual case. The mouth guard alleviates the symptoms so you can sleep safely and soundly. However, some cases of sleep apnea might require surgery or further treatment.

Q: Could my sleep apnea be caused by something else?
A: Yes. There are some sleep apnea conditions that are caused by heart problems, strokes, or brain tumors. This is called central sleep apnea and will require medical treatment beyond a mouth guard, since it is caused by the brain signals not reaching the muscles properly.

If you think you may be suffering from sleep apnea, or are having trouble with snoring, contact our office today to make an appointment with Dr. Barney. He can help you figure out the cause of your problem, and offer solutions to alleviate your symptoms.

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