Archive for October 2013

Snoring & Sleep Apnea: How Dentistry Can Improve Your Sleep and Health

Patient Question: My husband’s snoring has gotten to the point where he almost stops breathing. What can be done? And why is this a dental concern?

Snoring occurs when the soft-tissue structures of the upper airway (the back of the throat) collapse onto themselves, the tongue drops back, and air is obstructed in its movement through the mouth and nose into the lungs. As a result, these obstacles create the vibration that produces snoring.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when that upper-airway collapse becomes more profound, causing significant airflow disruption or even no airflow whatsoever for 10 seconds or more. This can be dangerous to health as blockage of the upper airway causes reduced airflow to the lungs and, therefore, low blood-oxygen levels. When oxygen levels drop low enough, the brain moves out of deep sleep and the individual partially awakens, followed by a loud gasp as the flow of air starts again.