This article is sponsored by Northwestern Dental Center, Chicago's finest oral-health care practice. Learn more about Northwestern Dental Center at Northwesterndental.com.
A snoring bedmate can ruin anything from a night's sleep to -- in the most extreme cases -- a relationship.
But before you decamp for the guest bedroom or, worse, the couch, consider this: Many "snorers" actually suffer from Sleep Apnea, a condition that in moderate cases can be cured by a simple dental device.
What Is It?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the closing of the oral airway, which can result in the cessation of breathing for up to a minute or more during sleep. This can occur hundreds of times during the night. Sleep Apnea is different from snoring in that sleep apnea occurs when the base of the tongue occludes the airway. Snoring, on the other hand, is when the soft palate and nasal passages vibrate during breathing.
Why Does It Occur?
The airway is blocked during sleep for several reasons, including: Large tongues, long expansive soft palates and prodigious tonsils which block the airway especially when patients sleep on their backs. Even worse, the effects of this blockage include an increased risk of hypertension, stroke and heart attack.
There are various modalities of treatment for sleep apnea with a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine and mask being the first prescribed and most effective if tolerated. In moderate and mild cases of sleep apnea a simple dental device can be fabricated which the patient wears during sleep. This device is often more readily tolerated and easier to use than CPAP. Frequent travelers also find it much easier to transport in a carry on or suitcase.
Some cases require various surgical modalities, but if your apnea is mild to moderate, a dental exam can determine if you are a candidate for the use of a removable oral appliance. The consistent use of the device will keep the airway open by bringing the blocking tissues forward and thus opening the airway for better sleep.