Can’t Catch Your ZZZZs? Talk to Your Dentist
Snoring affects 30 percent of people in the United States, while second-hand snoring–being kept awake or having your sleep disturbed by a snoring partner–affects about 73 percent of people who sleep with someone who snores.
Although snoring seems physically harmless, it can be a red flag for a more serious and sometimes fatal condition called obstructive sleep apnea. This occurs when the airway completely collapses, blocking airflow into the lungs. The harder one tries to breathe, the tighter the airway seals. This airway obstruction persists until the brain partially awakens the person. Unconscious, the person closes the jaw, returning the tongue and throat to a normal position.
The sleep apnea cycle–falling asleep, jaw relaxing, airway collapsing, unconsciously awakening with a gasp, falling back asleep–can repeat itself 50 or more times per hour during the night. With a blocked air passage, the snorer cannot receive enough oxygen, and this can lead to other problems.
A solution available to those who snore or have sleep apnea is an oral appliance created by a dentist specially trained in treating sleep disorders. The oral appliance is similar to an athletic mouth guard and is worn while sleeping. It reduces sleep apnea associated health risks without the need for surgery or medications.