Snoring is the sound made by the vibration of the soft tissue in the back of the throat (such as the soft part of the palate and the uvula) as air passes by these areas when we sleep. If the air passage is constricted because the tongue is relaxed backward, say when we sleep, then snoring can occur. When we are awake and sitting upright, the tongue and jaw have a different position so the air passage is wider and snoring does not occur.
Snoring is a sign of a constricted airway and a constricted airway means less that optimal amount of air/oxygen taken in while sleeping. In addition, snoring can be very disruptive to one’s sleep partner. Commonly the sleep partner is the first to complain about this problem.
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which a person breathes in a very shallow manner or stops breathing entirely while still asleep. This is usually accompanied by snoring or other sounds as the individual is literally gasping for air. The pauses in breathing can vary from several seconds to longer periods and can occur anywhere from five to thirty times an hour for the whole night.
There are two main causes of sleep apnea. The first type of sleep apnea is called central sleep apnea and the cause is signals from the brain that is directing breathing to be less efficient and labored.
The second type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea. This means that the throat through which we breathe, is constricted or physically obstructed making the airway smaller. The obstruction can be caused by enlarged tonsils, fat tissue, tongue and jaw position.
Sleep apnea is a very serious problem. It means the individual with sleep apnea is getting less oxygen then necessary every night perhaps for years. Sleep apnea can lead to an early death.
Sleep apnea has been associated (not causing but related to):
The treatment is varied and may very well last a lifetime. There is no cure but the problems of sleep apnea can be reduced, improving the health and wellbeing of the affected individual.
The first step is a sleep study to determine the cause(s) of snoring and or apnea
Treatment recommendations may include
After a proper sleep study has been done and an accurate diagnosis has been made and after the treatment alternatives have been discussed, snoring and sleep apnea can be improved (not cured) by the use of a simple custom made mouthpiece that repositions the jaw allowing better breathing.
The mouthpiece is usually made as a one piece prosthesis or as assembly of an upper and lower prosthesis that fits together. In either case the lower jaw is moved forward sufficiently to open the airway and reduce or eliminate snoring.
Some risks apply, and Dr. Silberman will discuss these with you, but compared to dying early the risks are small.
If any of these apply to you please contact our office and we will discuss this with you. Treating sleep apnea can improve your life if not save your life.
One might answer by saying what does it cost if left untreated. Untreated it can shorten your life.
Fortunately most medical insurance including Medicare does cover this type of treatment. Our office can provide other details.Back