Snoring and The Dentist

The National Sleep Foundation estimates 90 million adults in America are affected by snoring and half of all those who snore likely have Sleep Apnea. Specifically, 10% of working men suffer from this dangerous and very often overlooked condition.

Sleep Apnea is often confused and disregarded as merely the symptom of someone who is just a “snorer”, or someone who is overweight. It is more than just snoring, though, as it causes a pause in breathing of at least 10 seconds repeatedly during sleep which can be life threatening.

Most people don’t realize there are actually two different types of sleep apnea. The most common is called obstructive sleep apnea. It’s caused by weak or relaxed muscles in the back of the throat and the tongue. This creates a narrowed airway and fails to keep the oxygen passing safely and efficiently through when breathing. Central sleep apnea affects far fewer people and occurs when the brain cannot properly control safe breathing while asleep.

Not only is snoring disruptive to the individual’s sleep and those around them, but it is also very dangerous for their health and often is a symptom of larger health problems. When simple snoring becomes a sign of a more dangerous condition, it can be characterized by gasping or snorting suddenly during sleep. Due to this interrupted sleep, the snorer may also experience moodiness, daytime sleepiness and headaches.

Dr. Gregory Allen Kerbel, DDS, voted as a Super Dentist in Texas Monthly 5 years in-a-row says,

“As you snore, you are struggling to breath causing the blood pressure in your carotid arteries to soar. This pressure can lead to damage to the walls of the arteries, increasing your risk of stroke. As you sleep, the muscles and soft tissues relax and make the breathing airway smaller. A smaller airspace makes air travel faster, which causes the tissues to vibrate producing snoring.”

Ways to help alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea include losing weight, eliminating nasal congestion, creating a comfortable sleeping environment, and avoiding large meals, alcohol, caffeine and exercise before bed. Professional treatments include appliances such as the ‘Silent Nite’ device.

Dr. Kerbel says,

“The ‘Silent Nite’ has been shown to work 70-100% of the time, and it’s comfortable. Comfort and reliability are two very important things when seeking care for a condition that leaves you exhausted and feeling hopeless. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends oral appliances like this one as a front line treatment for snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea and as an alternative to CPAP machines. ”

The first step is finding out if you or someone you know has symptoms that could require medical attention. Dr. Kerbel offers a free quiz on his website to help you determine if getting tested for sleep apnea could help change your life. What most people assume is just an annoying habit, often is the sign of something more serious. With all the resources available in our modern society, it is easy to spread the word and create awareness for something still relatively unknown, you could help save someone’s life.