Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Center for CPAP Intolerance
Sleep apnea is a common disorder that affects people of all ages. It is an involuntary cessation of breath that occurs while someone is sleeping. Those who have this disorder stop breathing for at least 10 seconds at a time, ultimately leading to fragmented non-refreshing sleep. This disruption can occur hundreds of times per night, sometimes for one minute or longer.
One indicator of sleep apnea is snoring. Snoring is not only disruptive, but can lead to several medical problems including:
- Choking and/or gasping during sleep
- Memory loss
- High blood pressure
- Coronary heart disease
- Dozing while driving
- Daytime sleepiness
- Acid Reflux
- Chronic Fatigue
The Dangers of Snoring
Snoring doesn't just interrupt your sleep cycle. The struggle for breath can result in high blood pressure, which can damage the walls of the carotid arteries and increase the risk of stroke. At certain levels of severity, complete blockage of the airway by the soft tissues and tongue can occur. If this period of asphyxiation lasts longer than 10 seconds, it is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a medical condition with serious long-term effects.
What Causes Snoring?
During sleep, muscles and soft tissues in the throat and mouth relax, shrinking the airway. This increases the speed of airflow during breathing. As the speed of required air is increased, soft tissues (like the soft palate and uvula) vibrate. The vibrations of these tissues result in "noisy breathing" or snoring. This means that the airway has collapsed and the muscles are failing to maintain their normal function.
Is Surgery the Answer?
Surgical techniques used (tonsil removal, correction of deviated septum or removal of nasal polyps) have shown only moderate success rates with the chance of complications afterwards. Many ENT physicians encourage their patients to try non-invasive oral appliance therapy prior to any invasive surgical procedure. With so many advances in the field of dentistry, patients now have the option to be conservatively and successfully treated with an oral appliance.
How Can an Oral Appliance Prevent Snoring?
A custom-fabricated intraoral dental device moves the lower jaw (mandible) into a forward position, increasing space in the airway. This extra space that is created prevents the airway from collapsing, which can help prevent snoring.
The EMA (Elastic Mandibular Advancement) Appliance
The EMA oral appliance is a customizable, removable appliance designed to treat snoring and OSA.
It is worn while the patient is sleeping, allowing for a less restricted airflow and better quality of sleep.
This is why we treat Sleep Disordered Breathing, commonly referred to as Sleep Apnea: