Snoring is often thought of as “normal” since so many people do it – approximately 30% of adults and 10% of children. Snoring is actually an unhealthy condition caused by the tissues at the back of the nose and mouth partially blocking the airway. The result is a vibrating sound that can be quite loud and annoying – especially to someone sleeping next to a snorer.
Snoring can also further develop into a condition called sleep apnea – caused when the same soft tissues in the throat completely block the airway, preventing breathing completely. This causes a lack of oxygen to the brain, heart and other body tissues that can have negative long term effects. A person that isn’t breathing will awaken sometimes up to 200 times in a night to gasp and catch their breath (often without even knowing). The result is a very restless and unproductive sleep. Stopping breathing while sleeping isn’t normal and can have serious health effects. The lack of sleep can also be a frequent cause of automobile accidents.
Why does this concern your dentist?
Your dentist regularly examines your mouth and assesses your oral health. During this exam they are also able to screen for risk factors related to snoring and sleep apnea. They may also be able to provide options for the treatment of snoring or sleep apnea. They may want to coordinate treatment with your primary physician to help you to be as healthy as possible.
Questions to ask yourself (or a friend/family member):
Do I snore and how loud is it?
Do I gasp/choke while sleeping?
Do I stop breathing while sleeping?
Do I often wake up suddenly?
Do I sleep in a separate bed/bedroom from my partner?
Do I have frequent urination during the night?
Do I wake up with a dry mouth/sore throat/headaches?
Do I feel tired/out of energy during the day?
Do I often feel drowsy while driving?
Do I often need a nap in the daytime?
Do I have difficulty concentrating?
Do I have memory problems?
Do I have high blood pressure (or take medication for high blood pressure)?
Canadian Sleep Society
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Canadian Respiratory Journal
Journal of Sleep
Sound Sleep Solutions
Zephyr Sleep Technologies