Most of us snore from time to time, but for many Americans, snoring is an ongoing problem posing serious or even life-threatening health risks and damaging relationships. We often joke about snoring, but it can be a sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is no laughing matter.
Over 20 million Americans suffer from OSA, many seeking over-the-counter snoring aids to no avail. Dental sleep medicine addresses the cause of snoring and OSA and can provide real, working relief.
When you snore, the muscles in your mouth and throat have relaxed, narrowing the airway. An oral appliance help to keep the airway open by stabilizing your jaw and tongue, so that they don’t fall back during sleep. An oral appliance can achieve this in several ways:
- Holding the jaw forward
- Holding the tongue forward
- Repositioning the soft palate and uvula
- Increasing muscle tone
Why not buy an over-the-counter-mouthpiece?
You have probably seen mouthpieces advertised on TV or for sale at your pharmacy. The principle is the same, but these OTC mouthpieces don’t work for most people because they are basically a one-size-fits-all solution. To be effective, you need an oral appliance that is custom fit for your mouth and that addresses your individual reason for snoring. OTC mouthpieces can also cause dental damage and/or TMJ, because they are not designed to work precisely with the alignment of your teeth and jaw. Over time, if you actually continue to wear them, they can cause you to hold your jaw in a strained position, creating long-term problems.
When you see a dentist for your snoring, he will work closely with your doctor and sleep specialist, learning all of the details of your personal snoring habits, including the cause and severity. Impressions are taken, and your oral appliance is created not only to address why you snore, but to fit your teeth and mouth perfectly. This means more comfort, compliance, and a better working device. It also prevents damage to your teeth and jaw.
Is Treating Sleep Apnea Really That Important?
Unfortunately, yes. Long-term snoring can cause serious health problems from sleep deprivation lone, and OSA can be deadly. During an OSA event, your blood-oxygen level dips dangerously low. This is why you wake up or partially wake up.
The many dangers of OSA include:
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Sleep deprivation
- Sexual dysfunction
Sleep deprivation itself is not to be taken lightly. Long-term sleep deprivation has mental and physical side effects including:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Falling asleep while driving
- Low productivity
- Irrational thinking
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Slow reaction time
- Depressed immune system
Find out how Dr. Shapira, our experienced sleep apnea dentist, can help with your snoring, sleep mask problems, and other issues related to apnea. Please call our office in the Chicago area at 1-847-533-8313 today to get started.