Snoring and Obstructive Apne

Do you wake up feeling tired? Do you fall asleep at inopportune times? Are you getting your sleep or does your sleep partner's snoring keep you up at night?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you or someone you know could be suffering from more than just the loud snoring noises disrupting your sleep, it could be a serious health problem called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The soft tissue in the throat and upper airway vibrate making the sounds we know as snoring. With OSA the tongue falls against the back of the throat cutting off the air supply causing temporary asphyxiation (deprivation of oxygen). With no air passing through to the body the brain signals the respiratory system to breath and one takes a big gasp of air and this cycle is repeated over and over all night long, robbing the body of normal sleep cycles. Unless the body goes into deep sleep, Rapid Eye Movement also known as REM, the body cannot get the rest it needs to function on a daily basis.

Persons who suffer from OSA vary in approach. Some choose surgery which attempt to cure snoring by eliminating some of the tissue in the back of the throat. Other options are a ventilator type of pump known as continuous positive air pressure (CPAP). This device consists of a mask worn over the nose and mouth and air is pumped into the lungs to keep the back of the throat from collapsing. Another device or treatment is a dental appliance called a snore guard. The snore guard positions the lower jaw forward, keeping the tongue off the back of the throat, allowing air to pass into the lungs. For those with OSA, it is extremely important for you to seek treatment. First, have a sleep study completed. Then discuss with the physician and dentist concerning your treatment options. Sleep well.

Karen Clister D.D.S.  Cumberland Dental Wellness Center


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Anjelica Aguilar, Cumberland, MD