What on earth has snoring got to do with the dentist? Can a dentist help with my snoring? Is snoring really a problem anyway? These are all reasonable questions, but as this blog will show, snoring has a lot to do with the dentist, yes we can help, and yes, snoring can be a problem that you should take seriously. What causes people to snore anyway? Snoring is the sound of air moving through a constricted airway which has been partially blocked by collapsed soft tissue, such as the tongue, the soft palate or the punch-bag shaped piece of soft tissue at the back of your throat, the Uvula. The soft tissue vibrates and this causes the familiar sound of snoring. This occurs more commonly when a person is lying on their back and gravity allows these tissues to drop into your airway. Snoring is extremely common affecting 50-60% of adults. There are several factors that increase your chance of snoring. Being overweight increases the likelihood of you snoring. If you have a Body Mass Index of 25 or over, you are more likely to snore. This is in part due to the size of the neck and the size of the tongue. When we put on weight, the neck and the tongue get bigger. As the neck gets bigger, more pressure is placed on the airway, making it more likely to collapse. When the tongue gets bigger, it is more likely to obstruct the airway. Being male increases the likelihood of being a snorer. Men are nearly twice more likely to snore than women. Many people will be familiar with snoring after a few alcoholic drinks. Alcohol has a sedative effect which causes the jaw and throat muscles to relax, making the airway collapse much easier. Having large tonsils and adenoids also cause increased snoring. These tissues further block the airway and also make it difficult to breathe easily through the nose. People who breathe exclusively through the mouth are more likely to snore. Smoking also causes and increase in snoring. Smoking causes irritation the lining of the nose and throat, which further restricts the airway, making snoring more likely. Should snoring be taken seriously? The answer is yes. In our society we tend to think of snoring as something that just happens when we sleep and we joke about those who snore more loudly and more frequently. It is rarely taken seriously as a medical problem that should be investigated. Snoring certainly can be an innocent side effect of a good sleep, but those who snore loudly and frequently, should be screened for the possibility of obstructive sleep apnoea. Obstructive sleep apnoea is when the airway collapses resulting in a complete stop in breathing for a few seconds. Obstructive sleep apnoea is a serious condition, which left untreated can result in high blood pressure, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, severe daytime sleepiness and difficulty concentrating. If you inform your dentist or doctor that you are a snorer, they should be able to screen you for the likelihood of you having obstructive sleep apnoea and arrange a referral for diagnosis and treatment if appropriate. More on obstructive sleep apnoea will be the next blog. Obstructive sleep apnoea aside, regular snoring can still be a problem worth treating. Snoring is problematic for the following reasons: Relationship problems are often caused by snoring. Some snoring can be so frequent and loud that partners cannot sleep in the same room as the snorer. This causes couples to have to sleep in separate rooms which can place a strain on a relationship or be unpractical depending on number of bedrooms in a house. If a partner does manage to stay in the same bed, they can begin to suffer all the symptoms of sleep deprivation themselves such as daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating and irritability. Poor quality sleep of the snorer can make them feel unrested when waking, more likely to doze off during the day, slower reaction times, difficulty in concentration and to suffer more erratic mood swings. Even if the snorer feels that they did not wake during the night, they could still have suffered poor quality sleep, causing all of the above symptoms. So how can a dentist help with a snoring problem? A dentist can easily treat snoring. As well as offering lifestyle advice to help reduce snoring, appropriately trained dentists can make a customised, adjustable snoring appliance that fits over the upper and lower teeth. The snoring appliance holds the lower jaw forward, which in turn, pulls the tongue and soft tissues forward and out of the airway. These appliances are known as mandibular advancement appliances. Mandibular advancement appliances have been shown again and again in studies to be extremely effective in reducing snoring and increasing overall sleep quality in snorers. These anti-snoring devices should only be made by a dentist who has undergone appropriate training in this area. For this reason, always make sure you ask if the dentist who is making the anti-snoring device has done relevant training in dental sleep medicine screening and treatment. Most importantly, a dentist is perfectly placed to screen a patient for the more harmful condition of obstructive sleep apnoea. You see your dentist every 6-12 months on average and every time you do, hopefully, the dentist looks into the mouth and the back of the throat, the main area where the problem of snoring occurs. Your dentist can ask you a series of questions which indicate the likelihood of obstructive sleep apnoea being a problem. If your dentist thinks it possible you may suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea, they can give you a series of questionnaires to fill out to assess you further. If, after the questionnaires are completed, the dentist still believes it likely that you have obstructive sleep apnoea, they can make an appropriate referral to a sleep clinic to get a confirmed diagnosis. Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea will be discussed in the next blog. If you have any questions about snoring cessation treatments or sleep apnoea, you can call us on 01252 614818, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the contact form on www.ancellsfarmdentalclinic.com\/contact\/.