Is It Sleep Apnea or Snoring?

Snoring can be annoying, particularly if your partner snores loudly and keeps you awake. But snoring is sometimes a sign of a more significant problem – sleep apnea. While both can be bothersome, sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that can lead to heart problems, contribute to diabetes, and create dangerous levels of exhaustion.  

What is Sleep Apnea? 

If you have sleep apnea, you periodically stop breathing for several seconds up to a few minutes while sleeping. Loud snoring is one of the most obvious signs of sleep apnea. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but anyone with sleep apnea snores.  

Risk factors for sleep apnea include: 

  • Obesity 
  • Over age 50 
  • Thick neck 
  • Family history of sleep apnea 
  • Smoking  
  • Excessive alcohol consumption 
  • Nasal congestion 

When your breathing stops during the night, your oxygen levels drop quickly. Your brain eventually triggers a reflex to restart your breathing, but the repeated cessation of breathing, fluctuating oxygen levels, and lack of restful sleep contribute to daytime exhaustion. There are several types of sleep apnea, although Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common. In obstructive sleep apnea, the tongue and soft tissues of the mouth fall back into the throat, blocking the airway. 

Treating sleep apnea is crucial to good health, as there are multiple health concerns for people with sleep apnea, including an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Patients with diabetes find it difficult to regulate their blood sugar levels, and anyone with sleep apnea suffers from a lack of restful sleep. 

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea 

  • Heavy or loud snoring 
  • Gasping or snorting while sleeping 
  • Periodically waking during the night 
  • Fatigue or daytime drowsiness 
  • Irritability or depression 
  • Chronic headaches, especially in the mornings 
  • Chronic dry mouth and throat 

What is Snoring? 

Snoring is the noise your body makes when your airways vibrate during sleep. Because the muscles in the throat are more relaxed, tissue vibrations create sounds that can be quite loud. Sometimes the sound is so loud you wake yourself up or prevent your partner from sleeping. If your snoring disrupts your sleep or affects your partner, Kenilworth Dental Associates can help with custom-designed oral appliances to minimize the vibration and reduce or eliminate snoring. 

Treatments for Sleep Apnea and Snoring 

Although obstructive sleep apnea and snoring are different issues, they can both have a negative impact. Fortunately, there are treatment options available that work for both. One treatment option is using a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, which gently forces air down the throat to keep the airway open. However, the CPAP mask is bulky, uncomfortable, and impractical for anyone who sleeps on their stomach. It is also noisy, difficult to clean and maintain, and inconvenient when traveling. Many patients stop using CPAP because of these limitations. 

Oral Appliance Therapy for Sleep Apnea and Snoring 

Kenilworth Dental Associates offers a more comfortable, holistic alternative to CPAP therapy. Dr. Dani and our dental care team can design and custom-fit an oral appliance that fits in the mouth and keeps your airways open by gently guiding the lower jaw into the appropriate position. For many patients, the oral appliance is as effective as the CPAP but much easier to use. 

Advantages of an oral appliance for sleep apnea and snoring include: 

  • Comfortable and lightweight 
  • Easy to care for  
  • Higher rate of patient compliance 
  • Portable 
  • Effective for mild to moderate sleep apnea or snoring 

If you have sleep apnea symptoms, a sleep test is the first step toward finding a solution. From there, Dr. Dani evaluates your snoring, sleeping patterns, and lifestyle to determine the most effective oral appliance to reduce your snoring and eliminate sleep apnea. Contact our office at Kenilworth Dental Associates Office Phone Number (847) 256-7700 or schedule your appointment online.