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Sleep Apnea and Snoring: Snooze or Lose

Snoring may seem like a normal, albeit annoying, part of life. Afterall, roughly half of us snore occasionally and around a quarter of us snore regularly. However, there are some serious potential risks you need to know about to keep your family healthy.

Snoring is Not Just a Nuisance, It’s a Health Risk

What happens as we lay back to sleep at night is that our tongue narrows the respiratory tract. Once that closes up, breathing can temporarily stop and the lack of adequate supply of oxygen to the brain makes our heart speed up. Hypertension and strokes are only some of the diseases linked to snoring-sleep apnea syndrome.

Sleep Apnea is Developed Early

Snoring in children (in addition to making them tired at school) can also lead to poor facial growth which does not allow enough space for permanent teeth. This is why extractions of bicuspids in order to do braces has been such a popular technique in the last 40+ years. We know that large tonsils (which promotes snoring) can lead to narrow jaws and necessitates either teeth extractions or expansion appliances to make room for crowded teeth.

All this can normally be avoided if we make sure that a growing child has adequate airways. That’s why we need to have a dentist or pediatrician evaluate and later monitor infant’s airways as early as 6 months of age(when they start solid foods). Tonsillectomies (removal of tonsils, adenoids) after 4 years of age is desirable.

Widely used surgical treatments for snoring include:

#Uvulectomy-removal of redundant tissue in the back of the throat

#Tonsillar pillars-placement of implants in the walls of the throat in order to restore it’s taught vertical architecture.

Though this may not be necessary to manage snoring.

Proper Diagnoses

The best way to begin is a proper diagnosis which can only be obtained at overnight facilities such as Woodlands Premier Sleep Center. The take home tests (watermark)which we use at Laraway Family Dental are not comprehensive enough to provide us with enough data. We use them only to check the efficiency of oral snoring appliances (cost $2500 and covered by medical insurance) which we make for patients who have tried and not been compliant with CPAP (continuous positive air pressure-pump ) devices. The store or internet bought snoring retainers although much more affordable ($60) and sometimes effective, are risky as they are more likely to cause permanent jaw problems (TMJ).

For those of you who snore and/or clench teeth; there is a very intimate connection between those two para functions. On how they are linked look for July blog or visit us for a free consultation.

So, the options thus presented are surgery, oral appliance or CPAP. Neither one of these options sound appealing. That’s why my favorite approach is, as usual, a healthier lifestyle.

A Healthier Lifestyle Can Make a Difference

Recent research shows a link between obesity, sleep apnea and snoring and obesity but I think most people misinterpret the results assuming that obesity causes snoring. It’s not that heavier individuals have more fatty tissue in their throats obstructing them at night, it has more to do with the gastrointestinal reflex. The human trachea is made in such a way that nothing other than air can get in. However, if food is in the stomach before going to bed those nutrients will rise up to the throat when you lie down. When this happens the body narrows the windpipe and stops your breathing in order to prevent stomach contents from entering the airways. There is a simple solution for that; don’t eat or drink alcohol for 5 hours before going to bed. In other words, you do not develop sleep apnea and snoring because you are obese but rather the habit of eating right before going to bed causes both: sleep disorder and obesity.

Sleep Healthy, Sleep Happy

My boring story is probably making you snore by now and we can see how crucial a healthy lifestyle is for our well being. We know it, but how do we change it? If you already made up your mind that it’s too late for us adults then maybe at the least we can recognize that it’s not too late for the youngsters growing up around us? Wouldn’t it be nice to break that pattern and help our children grow into healthy, happy individuals? It’s a competitive world out there and as far as I can see it’s all: SNOOZE OR LOSE.

Willy Wonka is right on once again: “Wake up starshine, the earth says hello….”

At Laraway Family Dentistry, we can help find the right solutions for you. For more information on Contact us today to schedule an appointment.