Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Proudly Serving Denver, Lakewood & nearby areas
If you have been told that you tend to snore at night, you have a great deal of company. About 80 million Americans are thought to have this problem, disturbing others nearby and interrupting everybody’s rest.
Perhaps you feel that snoring is not an issue to bring to your dentist? It would not be correct to assume that it is just something you have to live with. There are increasing numbers of snoring treatments and it is most certainly an issue that you can discuss with dentist, Dr. Greenhalgh.
Cause of Snoring
Briefly stated, the vibration of the soft tissues in the back of your throat causes snoring. When you are relaxed in sleep, and especially if you are on your back, the tongue and throat tissue can fall back against the airway and partially close it off. This causes air to pass more quickly through the narrowed passageway. In turn, the increased air speed makes the tissue vibrate, which produces the snoring noise.
Some conditions increase the likelihood of snoring, such as obesity, use of sedatives at night, and heavy alcohol consumption. As we age we are more likely to suffer from snoring problems, as are males, although it can happen with anybody.
When airway blockage is severe to the point of being complete, breathing stops altogether for a short while. When this period is longer than ten seconds and occurs five or more times each hour you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). It is diagnosed with a polysomnogram – a sleep test done overnight. Not everyone who snores has OSA because snoring does not always cause apnea (lack of breathing).
Most people with OSA are unaware of having it. It can exist for years without being diagnosed, and the person becomes accustomed to feeling sleepy during the day. However, sleep deprivation can have serious consequences:
- High blood pressure which remains high during sleep (unlike typical hypertension)
- Increased risk of heart attack
- Memory loss (from lack of oxygen to the brain)
The goal of snoring and OSA treatments is to keep the airway open during sleep. Dr. Greenhalgh offers a custom-made device called Silent Nite™. It is a pair of transparent tooth trays with a special connector which keeps the lower jaw in a more forward position. It allows you to breathe through the mouth. It also allows a little jaw movement during the night, which helps to prevent jaw stiffness in the morning.
By wearing a Silent Nite device while you sleep, you can avoid snoring and maintain continuous breathing throughout the night. When you are not repeatedly wakening to get air, your sleep is more restful and you will not feel fatigued all day.
Getting Away From CPAP
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is a machine which increases air pressure in the throat to facilitate easy breathing. It has an accompanying line of therapeutic devices such as masks, chin straps, head gear, humidifiers, tubes, and nasal pillow systems. As you sleep, your head and nose are connected to the machine which sits at your bedside.
Many feel it is too uncomfortable. The machine is noisy and the system does cause some unwanted consequences such as:
- Sore throat
- Skin irritation
If you have been using a CPAP machine and would like to try a different treatment, we can help. Research on sleep apnea and snoring treatments is ongoing and new ideas and new devices are being developed all the time.
Dr. Greenhalgh has had success in improving nighttime breathing by using a selection of oral positioners, such as the TAP III. He would work together with your sleep specialist to create options for you. For some patients the effects have been so dramatic that they have been able to discontinue their CPAP machines, improving the quality of their lives.
If you have a sleeping partner who disturbs you by snoring, there is a solution. If you have snored for years and thought it was just something you had to live with, that is no longer true. Why jeopardize your health unnecessarily? Dr. Greenhalgh has over twenty years of experience in diagnosing and treating many dental problems and he can help.
Please contact our cosmetic and general dentistry office today to schedule a sleep dentistry consultation to find out more about sleep apnea and snoring. We serve Denver, Lakewood, and all surrounding neighborhoods in Colorado.