20118 N 67th Ave Ste 308

Glendale, AZ 85308


Don’t Ignore the Snore

Most people assume that snoring is a normal habit that comes with aging. Although it is true that there is a correlation between snoring and age, that doesn’t mean snoring is harmless. In fact, snoring is a sign that you are having trouble breathing during sleep. Even if you don’t have full-blown sleep apnea, you may not be getting the rest you need each night. This can lead to serious consequences for your overall health. You may have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and not even know it. Often, the first indication that a person is suffering from OSA is that they snore. The list of health problems associated with OSA is long and includes the following:

  • Cardia arrhythmias (may lead to stroke or heart attack)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (may lead to stroke)
  • Metabolic disease (diabetes and pre-diabetes)
  • Reneal disease (kidney dysfunction and failure)
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Asthma
  • Cancer (pancreatic cancer and melanoma in particular)

Snoring and OSA

So, your partner complains that you snore. That’s not all that unusual, right? After all, more than half of men snore, and about 40% of women do too. Why should you be worried about something that is so common?

Just because something is common does not mean it is normal. Today, the average US citizen has a body mass index (BMI) of around 26 which classifies them as overweight. One hundred years ago, the average BMI was 20. Today, someone with a BMI of 20 is considered skinny. What is common today is not necessarily healthy, or even natural. In fact, having a BMI in the high 20s increases your chances of dying from myriad diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Snoring is also not normal. In fact, it could be a sign that you have OSA, and one or more of its associated health problems. If your partner complains that you snore, you find yourself nodding off in the afternoon, or you are obese, then you should talk to your doctor about OSA. Many dentists routinely look for signs of OSA during a head and neck exam.

Treating OSA

If it turns out that you do have OSA, or a less severe form of sleep disturbance, then there are multiple treatment options available. First, you must be diagnosed by a sleep medicine doctor. They will typically require a sleep study. These days, sleep studies can often be completed from the comfort of your own bedroom rather than in a sleep lab.

CPAP Machine

Once you receive a diagnosis, your sleep medicine doctor will determine what type of treatment you need. If you have OSA, then continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) is the gold standard of treatment. But, not everyone tolerates CPAP therapy. In cases where patients will not use CPAP, dental appliances may help treat symptoms of OSA. In cases where patients suffer from less severe sleep disordered breathing, dental therapy alone may be sufficient to treat their symptoms. Ultimately however, CPAP and dental appliances are not treating the underlying cause of OSA, which in most cases is obesity. For overweight patients suffering from OSA, losing weight is likely the most effective means of treating their OSA.

Some people suffer from OSA despite maintaining a healthy weight. In many of these cases, a restrictive airway is to blame. Unfortunately, modern diets, chronic allergies, and some types of orthodontics can contribute to insufficient growth and development of the mid-facial region. If the upper jaw fails to grow forward and wide enough, the lower jaw can become trapped. Like Cinderalla’s glass slipper, the lower jaw should fit nicely inside of the upper jaw. If the upper jaw doesn’t grow enough, the lower jaw gets trapped like a foot inside a shoe that’s too small. This can cause the lower jaw to partially block the airway and lead to OSA later in life, even in people with a normal BMI.

Advocate for Yourself

Your dentist can detect signs of OSA if they perform routine head and neck exams. If your dentist isn’t providing this service, you should request that they do. Unfortunately, there are many signs and symptoms of OSA that your dentist and physician won’t be aware of unless you tell them. If you have a snoring habit, or you find yourself falling asleep during daylight hours, you should mention that to your doctor. Although most people snore occasionally, routine snoring is not normal. Your risk of dying from all causes is higher if you suffer from sleep disordered breathing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *