Airways may always be narrow, which is most frequent in people whose snoring comes from the nose. More often, the airways shrink at night. When we’re awake, our muscles and gravity help hold our airway open. But when we lie down at night, gravity pulls the airway closed, and our muscles relax, allowing the collapse to occur.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
When the airway doesn’t just narrow in sleep, but closes fully, that’s called obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a potentially deadly condition that should be treated.
Snoring is the most common warning sign of sleep apnea, because your airway will typically narrow before it closes. Your sleep partner might notice not only loud snoring, but also a gasping or choking sound that accompanies the closure of the airway and the slight awakening necessary to reopen the airway.
Loud snoring, especially that accompanied by a choking sound, should be taken seriously and be grounds for talking to your doctor, a sleep doctor, or sleep dentist.
Dangers of Snoring
Snoring is much more dangerous than many people think, and it should be taken seriously. In some cases, it can lead to friction in a marriage or relationship, causing serious fighting. It is commonly cited as one of the reasons why people seek divorce.
This condition also indicates that you are not getting an uninterrupted airflow during sleep. This means that you are slightly oxygen deprived overnight, resulting in poor sleep. Snorers are more likely to fall asleep when driving than those who do not snore.
Finally, the vibrations from snoring can damage your blood vessels, leading to scarring that can increase your risk of stroke.
Snoring treatment can take many forms. Most commonly, people might attempt at-home care by altering their sleeping position and diet.
If home treatment doesn’t work, people should try an oral appliance for snoring. These customized devices are engineered to provide proper fit and function and give better results than over-the-counter imitators.
If oral appliances and home care don’t work, surgery remains an option that can work, though its effectiveness is limited and its risks are greater than for other treatments.
If you would like to learn more about snoring treatment, please call (201) 343-4044 or email River Edge Dental Center for TMJ, Sleep Apnea, & Reconstructive Dentistry.