We’ve probably seen the scene a thousand times: one half of a couple is asleep, snoring loudly, and the other person is squeezing the pillow over their head. If you’re in a relationship with someone who snores, or even if you’re the one who snores, it’s not only an inconvenience, it can be dangerous as well. Snoring doesn’t just interfere with your partner’s sleep. It can be a symptom of a larger disorder that can leave you feeling regularly fatigued, and can cause frequent headaches.
So before you order those ear plugs off Amazon and call the problem solved, it’s time to dig deeper into your snoring.
Is It Just Snoring?
Snoring is a fairly common phenomenon — it’s estimated that around 90 million Americans snore at some point while they sleep — and while many who snore may simply be snoring, others might have a serious sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder in which our airways become temporarily blocked during sleep, causing pauses in the breathing cycle. When you resume breathing, you may make a choked-sounding snore, which can indicate your airway reopening. These pauses can cause your blood-oxygen levels to shift dramatically, causing strain on you heart, and waking you up momentarily so that you can catch your breath. Over the course of a night, this can dramatically affect your quality of sleep, making you feel fatigued during the day. There are many warning signs of sleep apnea, but they are often overlooked and perhaps 80% of people with the condition are undiagnosed.
The Risks of Sleep Apnea
If you’re suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, feeling tired can be the least of your worries. Sleep apnea is associated with a number of serious health concerns, including diabetes, heart disease, depression, and coronary artery disease. The effects on the body are far-reaching and extremely dangerous. And the longer you suffer from untreated sleep apnea, the more danger your body is in.
How Your Dentist Can Help
If you’re diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor will probably recommend a CPAP machine. While CPAP is very effective, many find that it can be disruptive and inconvenient. The machine requires constant cleaning, can be uncomfortable to sleep with, and can be noisy to you and a sleeping partner.
Your dentist can offer an alternative to the CPAP machine: an oral appliance. Similar to a mouth guard used for sports, this device is worn at night to hold the jaw in the proper position to prevent the closing of the airway. This treatment, unlike CPAP, is quiet, doesn’t trigger claustrophobia, and doesn’t require electricity to work.
If you would like to learn more about your sleep apnea treatment options in Anchorage, please call (907) 274-7691 today for an appointment with a sleep dentist at Denali Dental Care.