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Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Everyone deserves a good night’s sleep. But if you are a snorer or sleep next to one, neither of you is likely getting a good night of rest—particularly if the snoring is caused by obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea can be a severe sleep disorder with serious health consequences. Sufferers stop breathing many times during the night, which interferes with the quality of their sleep. Many people with sleep apnea are loud snorers. Many of our patients come to our dental practice for help and advice to treat their sleeping disorder.
Why People Snore
Snoring occurs when people cannot move air freely through their nose and throat while they are asleep. The sound you hear when people snore is the vibration of the involved tissues. Some people are more prone to snoring than others, particularly those who:
- Drink alcohol
- Have a deviated septum
- Have hypothyroidism or other health problems
- Are overweight
Snoring Versus Sleep Apnea
Many people who snore do not have sleep apnea. Usually snoring is accompanied by other symptoms if it is obstructive sleep apnea. These include:
- Breathing that stops many times through the night, waking the person as they gasp for air
- Waking up feeling fatigued despite having been in bed all night
- Feeling irritable and depressed
- Waking up with a headache or a sore throat
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
There are several ways you might be able to improve your sleep apnea, including the following:
- Change your sleeping position. At Vaccaro Aesthetic and Family Dentistry, we recommend that people who snore or who suffer from sleep apnea avoid sleeping on their back. This position makes it easier for your tongue to drift into a relaxed position, which can block your airway. We recommend you either sleep on your side or raise your head by using an incline pillow.
- Watch what you eat—especially before bedtime. If you eat fatty or spicy foods in the evening, this can cause indigestion, which can exacerbate sleep apnea.
- Get more exercise to improve overall health.
- Because smoking can irritate lung tissue, it can irritate sleep apnea. Perhaps this is the incentive needed to quit this unhealthy habit.
- Lose weight if you are heavy. Overweight people are more prone to developing sleep apnea, especially if they are carrying extra weight in their neck.
Another common treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP therapy. CPAP, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure, is very successful in treating sleep apnea, but the biggest problem is compliance. Many people simply stop using the CPAP machine because they find it uncomfortable.
While every case is different, Dr. Matthew Vaccaro—our experienced dentist—has found that his patients’ sleep apnea is often alleviated with a custom-made oral device. This particular night guard fits comfortably over the teeth while sleeping and helps keep the jaw aligned properly, so the airway stays open.
If your sleep apnea is going untreated, you are not getting the restful sleep you need. Contact Vaccaro Aesthetic and Family Dentistry to find out about treating sleep apnea with a custom-made snore guard.