Snoring is often a punchline, and because it’s talked about in a joking manner, you may not think it’s very serious. But, snoring can be a symptom of a life-threatening condition called sleep apnea. What you may not know is that the dental specialists at Downtown Dental Studio in New York City may be able to help.
When snoring is more than annoying
If you’ve ever shared a room with someone who snores, you know it can be annoying. But if you’ve ever awakened yourself, either with the sound of your own snoring or because you were gasping for air, you know that it can move from annoying to alarming.
Snoring is one of the most obvious symptoms of a condition called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which a person stops breathing for brief periods during sleep. There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex.
Obstructive sleep apnea
With obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is the most common type, the airway gets temporarily blocked, usually by the soft tissue at the back of the throat.
Central sleep apnea
With central sleep apnea, there’s a problem with the central nervous system. This type of sleep apnea is usually associated with some underlying health problem, such as heart disease.
Complex sleep apnea
Complex sleep apnea occurs when the person suffers from both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
The dangers of OSA
Obstructive sleep apnea can lead to — or worsen — health problems. For example, if you have high blood pressure, OSA can make it worse, and if you have normal blood pressure, OSA can cause it to rise. Obstructive sleep apnea can also contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and many other health conditions.
Why see a dentist?
It may seem odd to go to a dentist because you snore. But, dentists are trained to recognize the symptoms of sleep apnea and, in some cases, help treat it.
Several indicators of sleep apnea can be apparent during an oral exam. For instance, many people with OSA grind their teeth, so you may have cracked or ground down teeth. Furthermore, if you have OSA, you probably breathe through your mouth when you sleep. Breathing through your mouth can cause it to dry out, which can lead to cavities and enamel erosion.
If your OSA is caused when the soft tissue at the back of your throat collapses, you may be a good candidate for a specially designed dental appliance that can help prevent the tissue from blocking your airways. Your dentist may also recommend a CPAP machine, which can help open your airways as you sleep.
If you have sleep apnea or suspect you do, book an appointment online or over the phone with Downtown Dental Studio, and your dentist will give you a thorough examination and discuss your options.