Snoring & Sleep Apnea
Caused by a narrowing or blocking of the airway, snoring is a common problem that can affect both men and women of all ages. The disruption of airflow created by the narrowing causes the soft palate and tissues of the throat to vibrate. The narrower the airway becomes, the louder the snoring.
Snoring can often be treated by wearing a customized mouth guard that maintains an open, unobstructed airway in the throat while you sleep.
Some common causes of snoring include:
- Inflammation of the tissues in the mouth nose or throat (including tonsils)
- Blocked nasal passages (often caused by a cold or allergies)
- Lack of muscle tone (due to aging or poor fitness levels)
- Obesity causing the airway to narrow due to fat
- Medicines that cause relaxation
Mild sleep apnea can often be treated with lifestyle changes such as losing weight, positional therapy or by wearing an appliance to help maintain an open airway while you sleep.
For moderate to severe sleep apnea, a breathing device called CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) or surgery to widen the breathing passages by shrinking, stiffening, or removing excess tissue in the mouth and throat or resetting the lower jaw may be helpful. A CPAP machine uses a mask that fits over your mouth and/or nose and gently blows air into your throat. This air pressure helps keep your airway open while you sleep. Surgery to shrink the tissue involves a small shot into the breathing passages. Surgery to stiffen excess tissue requires a small incision in the tissue and inserting a piece of stiff plastic.