What Causes Snoring?
Snoring, a condition caused by a narrowing of the
airway in the nose and/or throat may be harmless. The actual snoring
sound is created
when air rushes
against soft tissue, such as the tonsils, back of the tongue, throat
and soft palate. This causes a vibration that makes a snoring sound.
An airway can become narrow for many reasons. A deviated septum in
the nose or excess weight in the throat is often the cause. If the tongue,
a muscle, relaxes too much during sleep it can get drawn back into
the throat with each breath. All of these conditions may
contribute to the snoring noise.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
This condition in which the tongue is drawn back during breathing,
blocking the airway. When oxygen levels in the brain drops, the sleeper
and the tongue returns to
normal position. This cycle of short interrupted sleep prevents the
person from attaining restful sleep.
Over time this condition can cause
complications affecting the heart, blood pressure, alertness and ability
to stay awake, among other problems.
People who have this condition have a constant feeling of tiredness.
What Can Be Done For Snoring and Sleep Apnea?
Mild snoring can be alleviated by:
- Not sleeping on the back
- Losing weight
- Avoid alcohol and medication that causes drowsiness several hours
When these methods do not alleviate the problem an evaluation
by a physician and a sleep study are necessary. Once a diagnosis
Apnea (OSA) is made, it is necessary to manage the condition.
- Nasal CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) a device
that uses a nose mask to force compressed air into the nasal passages
the airway open during sleep.
- Surgery of the throat or Maxillofacial Surgery (this bring the
jaw forward and can be extremely effective if done by an oral
surgeon with expertise in sleep disorders)
- Dental appliance to hold the jaw in a position that keeps the
How Does a Dental Appliance Work?
A dental appliance is similar to an orthodontic retainer except
that it is not used to move teeth. It works by changing the way the lower
meets the upper during sleep. When the appliance is worn, lower jaw moves
slightly forward. This creates more space at the back of the tongue and
throat for air flow.
To be fitted for a dental appliance, it is important
to consult a dentist
experienced with the use of appliances. Whenever the jaw is moved,
there is risk of creating discomfort or a “TMJ” (jaw joint) problem.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that the treating dentist
“must be capable of treating TMJ Dysfunction.”
Advantages of Dental Appliance Management
- Dental appliances are small, easy to wear and weighs only
a couple of ounces. Its size makes it easy to travel with. After a
few weeks most
people are completely comfortable with the appliance.
- Cost of the appliance is less that the cost of other treatments.
- Management with a dental appliance is reversible and does not
A Physician Should Be Consulted
Studies have shown that one out of three severe snorers have a harmful
degree of sleep apnea. If you snore heavily and/or suspect that
you might have OSA it is very important that you are thoroughly examined
by a physician. Examination
of the nasal passages by an ENT specialist and a sleep study may be necessary.
Since 1985 Dr. Lockerman has been helping people with the management
of snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea conditions. He is a charter
member of the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (formerly called the Sleep
Dental Society). He is credentialed by the Certification Board of
the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and is Board Certified as a Diplomate
by the American Board of Orofacial Pain.
After an initial evaluation,
Dr. Lockerman will tell you if the oral appliance management approach
has a good chance of helping you. Impressions
your mouth are taken and a custom made appliance is provided at the
next visit. You will be shown how to care for the appliance and
you may need
a couple of follow up visits for adjustments in the appliance to
insure that it is giving you the maximum benefit.
medical insurance company will cover the cost of an oral appliance
for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Call our office for