Snoring/ Sleep Apnea
Snoring is simply the act of breathing, usually through an open mouth, in such a
way as to cause vibration of the pharyngeal tissues. The reverberating tissues give
rise to what can be a loud, unpleasant sound.
Why do pharyngeal tissues vibrate in some people and not in others?
When the tongue, soft palate, uvula and even tonsils restrict the airway more air
has to be passed through an increasingly smaller opening. When the opening for air
to pass becomes too restricted, the air pressure blows the tissues back. These
tissues vibrate as air passes by causing the snoring. Think of it a flag flapping in
What are some risk factors for snoring?
- Large Tongue
- Low-Draping Soft Palate
- Excessive Fat in the Neck/Throat
- Enlarged Tonsils & Adenoids
- Long Uvula
- Drinking Alcohol
- Family History
- Nasal Blockage
- Deep Bite
There are 2 distinct types of Sleep Apnea that we must be aware of. Although some
of the clinical side effects may be the same, the causes for each are different as are
the treatment options. While still important to recognize and diagnose all types of
apnea, Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the only type we are able to treat in a dental
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is characterized by recurrent episodes of upper airway
collapse during sleep. This collapse causes an obstruction that partially (Hypopnea)
or completely (Apnea) restricts airflow. Individual events can last for a few
seconds or in some cases over a minute. People suffering from OSA frequently
have hundreds of these individual events per night; a severe sufferer can have over
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
Central Sleep Apnea is less common, but just as dangerous as Obstructive Sleep
Apnea. In short, during CSA the brain functions that trigger muscles to initiate
breathing ‘forget’ to do so. The result is a stoppage of breathing not due to an
airway blockage. The patient will stop for several seconds during which there is
not choking, gasping or any struggle to breathe as is the case with Obstructive
Sleep Apnea. After a period of stillness with no breathing, the patient will begin
breathing again sometimes at a more rapid rate because of elevated CO2 levels in
CPAP MACHINE: This device help maintain continuous air pressure during sleep.
ORAL APPLIANCES: A majority of oral appliances work to re-position the mandible, thus advancing the tongue and creating a larger opening in the airway. This also serves to prevent the tongue from falling back and creating a blockage.