Do you snore? If so, you're in good company. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons estimates that 30 to 50 percent of the U.S. population snores at some point. To get help, many people talk to their primary care physician. But did you know that you can also talk to your dentist?
Snoring occurs when there is an obstruction in your airway during sleep. The American Dental Association explains that this obstruction can be caused by the tongue or soft tissues in the mouth. When tissues in the top of the airway hit each other, the vibration that results creates a loud noise.
The loud noise may occur with short pauses in between. This could be an indicator of sleep apnea. When a patient has obstructive sleep apnea, breathing actually stops for brief moments, and this process can result in damaging effects on the body, such as atherosclerosis and other serious cardiovascular problems. Sleep apnea and the tendency to snore at night can also be the cause of daytime sleepiness and daily fatigue.
If you or your spouse notice a consistent problem at night, mention it to your dentist. Be prepared to explain the pattern of noise that you notice and also episodes of daytime sleep or fatigue.
There are several tests that your dental professional can arrange to keep you safe at night. One of these tests is called a polysomnogram, or sleep study. During the evaluation, experts analyze your sleeping patterns and your vital signs are monitored over the course of a night.
But there are other remedies that your dentist may recommend. The National Institutes of Health National Institute on Aging recommend these strategies to reduce snoring at night:
- Lose weight. Too much weight can cause changes to the structures around your airway.
- Consume little or no alcohol at night. Alcohol can change the quality of your sleep.
- Reduce or eliminate the use of sedatives. Talk to your doctor about alternatives.
- Don't sleep on your back. Try side sleeping with a supportive pillow.
With the support of your dental professional, you should be able to get to the root of your snoring issue and sleep more soundly at night.