How a Dentist Can Treat Snoring and Sleep Apnea

May 14, 2014, by Dr. Becky Coats

dreamstime_xs_28468889Snoring is a common nuisance, but it’s more than that. It is a sign of poor airflow during sleeping, which can lead to poor sleep quality both for the sleeper and for anyone who can hear the snoring. Snoring may also be a sign of sleep apnea, which is a potentially life-threatening condition associated with effects as diverse as mood disorders and heart disease.

Fortunately, we can offer you a convenient, comfortable, and effective snoring and sleep apnea treatment.

What Causes Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Snoring and sleep apnea are caused by obstruction of your airway during sleep. Some obstruction is constant, but much of it increases during sleep because you are lying down, which encourages gravity to pull your airway closed, and then when your muscles relax, your airway can close even more, sometimes completely.

When your airway is partly closed, the narrow air passage is difficult for air to flow through, leading to a turbulent airflow. The turbulence causes vibrations, and these are the sounds of snoring. When the airway collapses completely, your breathing is cut off, and this is what we refer to as sleep apnea.

How Your Dentist Can Treat Snoring and Sleep Apnea

There are four main places where your airway can be narrowed, causing snoring and sleep apnea. The first is in the nose. Although narrow air passages in the nose are common in snoring, they rarely reach the level of sleep apnea. The second is the soft palate at the top of your mouth. The third is the back of the mouth, where the airway becomes narrowed by the uvula, tonsils, and tongue. The fourth is your throat.

The constriction of your air passage at the back of the mouth and the throat partly depends on the position of your jaw. As the primary bony support in the area, its position determines how your soft tissues fall and whether they constrict or block your airway. A sleep dentist can prescribe you an oral appliance that can reposition  your jaw to improve the position of these soft tissues, reducing or eliminating your snoring and sleep apnea.

If you would like to learn more about this comfortable and convenient treatment option, please call Grapevine Dental at 817-481-6888. Serving the greater Dallas area.