What are Sleep Apnea and Snoring?

Sleep apnea is a common yet serious sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide, and can be life-threatening if left untreated. It is a condition in which a person’s breathing stops momentarily and starts again during sleep. This may cause fragmented sleep and other health issues as well.
Snoring is another common sleep disorder that occurs when the flow of air through the nose and mouth is partially blocked while you sleep. This causes the tissues in the throat to vibrate, resulting in the sound associated with snoring. Although this might seem like a minor problem, it can indicate underlying health issues. 
Snoring and sleep apnea are two related but distinct sleep disorders that can affect the overall quality of life. In this article, we will discuss snoring and sleep apnea in detail, highlighting their causes and potential treatments.

What causes snoring?

Snoring and sleep apnea can be interrelated. Snoring can be an indicator of sleep apnea. As per our expert dentist, Dr. Bajaj, several factors can contribute to the development of sleep apnea and snoring including:
  • Obesity
  • Age
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Genetics
  • Allergies
  • Structural abnormalities in the mouth or throat
  • Nasal polyps or adenoids
  • Osteoradionecrosis

Treatments for Sleep Apnea and Snoring?

The treatment for sleep apnea and snoring depends on the severity of the underlying condition. However, the treatment typically involves various lifestyle changes including medical devices that will help to keep the airway open. In severe cases, it may need surgery as well.
Lifestyle changes: If you are overweight, then reducing your weight may help with sleep apnea. Apart from this, avoiding alcohol and sedatives just before bedtime and sleeping on your side can improve sleep apnea symptoms.
Oral appliances: Oral appliances and dental devices help to reposition the jaw to keep your airway open during sleep. If you are suffering from both sleep apnea and snoring, oral appliances can help you a lot.
The three main categories of dental devices that help to treat OSA are as follows:
  • Mandibular advancement devices: These devices are made up of molded hard plastic that fits over your upper and lower jaws and pushes your lower jaw(mandible) forward. You can also get custom mandibular advancement devices, as per your requirement.
  • Tongue retaining device: It consists of a soft plastic splint placed around your tongue that holds it forward. Although this can be quite uncomfortable for the user, as this makes your mouth dry.
  • Mouth guards: The mechanism of action is similar to a mandibular advancement device. They act by repositioning your jaw, although to a lesser extent. Here you have to place the device in a cup of boiling water, wait for a minute, after which bite down on the mold that will take the form and shape of your teeth. This “boil and bite” method is also used for preventing bruxism.
CPAP machine: It consists of a hose and an airtight nosepiece or mask. CPAP(Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines work by delivering a constant flow of airways through the mask worn over the face or mouth. This will help to maintain a positive airflow while you sleep, preventing pauses in breathing.
Surgery: If the patient is not responsive to any of the above-mentioned options and suffers from structural abnormalities in the airway, surgery should be considered. This is done to remove excess tissues from the throat or to repair structural anomalies in the airway.

How does Magnolia Dental Help?

While there are many different options available, it’s important to take advice from a healthcare provider to determine if there are any underlying causes or not. Our experts at Magnolia Dental will determine the best course of action for your individual needs. By planning customized steps to manage sleep apnea symptoms, our doctors will help you to improve your sleep quality and overall quality of life.  At Magnolia Dental in Waterdown, we provide quality treatment for sleep apnea with a CPAP machine along with other improved oral appliances. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is snoring a temporary problem?

Snoring is a temporary problem but can also be a chronic issue if left untreated. In chronic cases, there is often an underlying cause such as sleep apnea persists. However, snoring can often be caused by temporary factors such as cough and cold, drinking alcohol before bedtime, and sleeping in awkward positions. In such cases, it may often resolve on its own. And if it persists, or affects your quality of life, schedule a consultation with our experts to seek treatment.

How can sleep apnea be diagnosed?

Sleep apnea can be diagnosed in several different ways, including:

  • In-lab sleep study: This kind of study is conducted in a sleep center, where you will sleep overnight while being monitored by professionals.
  • Home sleep study(HST/HSAT): This study can be done with the help of a portable device to monitor your sleep at home. This will watch over your breathing and other vital signs as well.
  • WatchPAT: This uses a wristwatch device to monitor your breathing, oxygen level, and other sleep-related parameters.

How sleep apnea affects the sleep cycle?

With frequent pauses within your normal sleep cycle, your everyday life will get impacted significantly. During normal sleep, each cycle lasts 90 minutes. However, sleep apnea disrupts the pattern by frequent interruptions in breathing. Hence, people often experience poor-quality sleep that makes them feel tired or groggy throughout the day. They may also experience mood changes, difficulty in concentration, and other health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

What is the main cause of sleep apnea?

As mentioned earlier, sleep apnea occurs due to narrowing or blockage of the airway during sleep. The reasons include:

  • Obstructive factors: The airway is partially or completely blocked by large tissues like adenoids or nasal polyps, deviated septum, a narrow airway, and also by excess weight as well.
  • Central factors: In central sleep apnea, the brain fails to send proper signals to the respiratory muscles that control breathing during sleep. This can happen due to various conditions like heart failure, stroke, and neurological disorders. That is why is crucial to consult your doctor to understand if there is any underlying condition or not.