Snoring / Sleep Apnea Treatment
What is Snoring?
Over one third of adults snore. Snoring is a partial collapse of the soft tissue structures in the upper throat, which causes them to vibrate against each other. This produces the sound of snoring. The more collapsed the tissues, the narrower the passageway and the louder a person tends to snore.
Why is the airway narrow in snorers?
The most common cause of a narrowed airway is a tongue that relaxes too much during sleep and gets sucked back into the airway with each breath taken.
In children, large tonsils and adenoids can be the cause of snoring. Pregnant women snore because of a narrowing of the airway and increased weight.
In a study conducted at Stanford University in California, one out of three chronic
snorers were found to have a harmful degree of sleep apnea (where the throat becomes entirely blocked). This causes the person to stop breathing for a moment and the catch his breath. This throat blockage and lack of oxygen usually lasts between 10-30 seconds but sometimes continues for dangerously long periods of time.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue in a person's throat collapses and the tongue is sucked completely against the back of the throat and blocks the airway during sleep. The blood-oxygen level then drops low enough that the brain signals the body to wake up and gasp for breath.
This happens so quickly that the sleeper usually does not remember it. In a given night, the number of involuntary breathing pauses or "apneic events" may be as high as 30 or more per hour. These breathing pauses are usually accompanied by snoring between apnea episodes, although not everyone who snores has this condition. In OSA snoring, the person appears to catch his/her breath or gasp. Thus they will periodically make a choking, snorting or gasping sound when the airway reopens.
Obstructive sleep apnea may be difficult to recognize, and is often missed or dismissed as an annoying snoring problem. This sleep condition has other common symptoms such as:
- excessive daytime drowsiness
- chronic morning headaches
- sore throat
- lack of productivity
- difficulty concentrating
Alternative to CPAP
Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that requires treatment. Medical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea with the CPAP device has been around for many years. The problem is that patients prescribed CPAP treatment tend to be only moderately compliant with use. CPAP is the continuous delivery of air through a mask worn over the nose and mouth during sleep. This forced air keeps the airway open but it can also lead to irritation in the nasal passages and even stomach discomfort. Some patients simply find the mask cumbersome and cannot keep it on throughout the night.
Dr. Ra has received training for the CPAP alternative, an oral airway appliance. This form of therapy consists of a customized appliance, designed to keep the jaw in proper position during sleep. People treated with oral appliance therapy report the device is comfortable to wear, so they are more compliant with treatment.
Sleep is important to your health and wellbeing. If you suspect you or a loved one is suffering with sleep apnea, we can help. Contact SmileStudio for your consultation with Dr. Ra in our Upland dental practice.