A Lifetime of Smiles: Snore Guards by Robert H. Waldman, D.D.S.
Most people who snore suffer from no serious medical condition. However, approximately 12 million Americans have a sleep disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which can be deadly.
Sleep apnea deprives the body of normal blood oxygen levels. This may cause morning headaches, excessive fatigue, and in some cases high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, even stroke.
I started making dental snore appliances when one of my patients came to me asking for help because as he said, “I’ve tried everything but still snore. I’m desperate”. I’m happy to report that he loved the appliance I made him! In doing more research and taking extra continuing education classes on snoring, I now encourage all patients to speak with their physician and have the proper sleep studies done to know the difference between excessive snoring and sleep apnea.
While the medical community has successfully treated mild to severe cases of OSA with the CPAP therapy mask, (Continuous positive airway pressure). The mask is connected to a machine that delivers air pressure through a mask placed over your nose while you sleep. With CPAP (SEE-pap), the air pressure is somewhat greater than that of the surrounding air, and is just enough to keep your upper airway passages open, preventing apnea and snoring.
Although CPAP is a preferred method of treating sleep apnea, some people find it cumbersome or uncomfortable. Don’t just stop using the CPAP machine if you experience problems. Check with your physician to see what modifications can be made to make you more comfortable. Additionally, contact your physician if you are still snoring despite treatment or begin snoring again.
The dental community has found that many people who find the CPAP mask uncomfortable and cumbersome to use benefit from an oral appliance called a “Snore Guard”. The snore guard is a custom made appliance designed to keep your throat open. While the CPAP is more effective than oral appliances, this oral appliance may be easier for you to use. This guard is designed to open your throat by bringing your jaw forward, which can sometimes relieve snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea.
A number of other devices are available from your dentist. You may need to try different devices before finding one that works for you. Once you find the right fit, you’ll still need to follow up with your dentist at least every six months during the first year and then at least once a year after that to ensure that the fit is still good and to reassess your signs and symptoms.
There are other options to help with your snoring such as surgery: Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), Maxillomandibular advancement, Tracheostomy, nasal surgery to remove polyps or straighten a crooked partition between your nostrils (deviated nasal septum), or surgery to remove enlarged tonsils or adenoids.
Possible causes of central sleep apnea include heart or neuromuscular disorders, and treating those conditions may help.
Using supplemental oxygen while you sleep may help if you have central sleep apnea. Various forms of oxygen are available as well as different devices to deliver oxygen to your lungs.
Bi-level positive airway pressure (BPAP) builds to a higher pressure when you inhale and decreases to a lower pressure when you exhale. Some BPAP devices can be set to automatically deliver a breath if the device detects you haven’t taken one after so many seconds.
Adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV) device learns your normal breathing pattern and stores the information in a built-in computer.
In many cases, self-care may be an appropriate way for you to deal with obstructive sleep apnea and possibly central sleep apnea. It is a good idea to check with your physician before trying these home remedies and lifestyle tips.
Lose excess weight. Even a slight loss in excess weight may help relieve constriction of your throat. Sleep apnea may be cured in some cases by a return to a healthy weight.
Avoid alcohol and certain medications such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills. These relax the muscles in the back of your throat, interfering with breathing.
Sleep on your side or abdomen rather than on your back. Sleeping on your back can cause your tongue and soft palate to rest against the back of your throat and block your airway. To prevent sleeping on your back, try sewing a tennis ball in the back of your pajama top.
Keep your nasal passages open at night. Use a saline nasal spray to help keep your nasal passages open. Talk to your doctor before using any nasal decongestants or antihistamines because these medications are generally recommended only for short-term use.
If you’re a snorer or sleep with someone who is, I hope you have found this article helpful….If you have any questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website roberthwaldmandds.com.
As always please remember to: Swish, floss, brush and swish again and continue to see your dentist at least every six months or as often as your dentist prescribes.