What is snoring?
Snoring is a noise created by the partial blocking of the airway. When you fall asleep your muscles relax, including those that control the tongue and throat. The soft tissue at the back of your throat can sag, narrowing the airway. Incoming air then makes the tissue at the rear roof of the mouth (the soft palate), the flap of skin hanging from the palate (uvula) and the throat vibrate – a sound we know as snoring.
Snoring is often no greater problem than the noise itself. However, loud snoring may be a sign of a more serious problem – OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnoea).
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?
Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) are breathing disorders, which occur during sleep, due to the narrowing or total closure of the airway. Many people or their partners suffer from either snoring or OSA. This can cause serious disruption to sleep and in many circumstances, can be treated by wearing an oral appliance. Both males and females can suffer from this problem.
OSA occurs when the airway becomes completely blocked and breathing stops. The brain then detects the lack of oxygen and prompts a momentary arousal to draw breath. Although OSA sufferers may experience hundreds of apnoea episodes per night, they are unlikely to remember any of them. In fact, if the sufferer lives alone or sleeps separately, they may not be aware of their condition. When breathing stops, air is prevented from entering the lungs, causing the heart to overwork. It is a serious medical condition which normally requires treatment by a Sleep Physician.
Treatment of Snoring with Oral Appliances
The treatment involves wearing a custom made splint at night that is fitted to the upper and lower jaws. It is painless and effective in most cases. It works by moving the lower jaw and tongue slightly forward. This prevents the tissues at the back of the throat from collapsing back into the airway. Snoring research has also shown that custom fabricated dental devices worn at night can increase the three dimensional space in the airway tube and prevent the soft tissue vibrations which cause snoring.
The treatment of snoring with an oral appliance is safe, painless and generally very effective.