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Snoring and sleep apnea

Snoring is a condition that affects more than one adult in five

It may be linked to the collapse of the upper airways, caused by:

  • abnormally large tonsils
  • an abnormally long soft palate
  • excess fat in the throat structures (in overweight individuals)
  • a retracted lower jaw

Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea

Snoring is usually considered a harmless affliction. However, it may signal a much more serious medical condition: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

This condition has significant consequences. It is a serious disorder, associated with greater risk of heart attacks and increased mortality. People with OSA complain of intense fatigue during the day. It is often linked with car accidents, since the fatigue created by OSA increases the risk of falling asleep at the wheel.

Important

Before beginning treatment for snoring, it is crucial to see whether the patient suffers from OSA and treat the condition accordingly. This assessment must be done by a doctor specializing in sleep disorders, most often a respirologist.

People with these anomalies generally have no respiratory problems when they are awake. While they are sleeping, on the other hand, throat muscles relax and further restrict the upper airways. This causes the throat structures to vibrate with the air flow, creating the condition we know as snoring.

Treatment

Following the diagnosis, the doctor determines the appropriate treatment and refers some patients to a dentist with specific expertise in treating snoring.

A possible solution: a MAD

Studies show that a removable device known as a mandibular advancement device, or MAD, can be an excellent choice for treating the problem. A MAD is an oral appliance similar to a mouthguard, worn only at night. It moves the lower jaw into a forward position and opens the upper airways.

A MAD

is designed for people who:

  • are not obese
  • have an average snoring
  • have slight to moderate OSA
  • have a retracted lower jaw

The dentist’s role

Your dentist is the only one with the necessary knowledge to diagnose periodontal, joint and dental problems.

Your dentist has the expertise to:

  • decide whether your oral condition is suited to the use of an appliance
  • determine the appropriate type of appliance
  • fit and adjust the appliance

Did you know?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that affects 2% of women and 4% of men between the ages of 30 and 60.