We often group these two conditions in the same category. While they are related they are not the same. If you read no further then understand that if you snore you need to be evaluated for obstructive sleep apnea. Think of a smoke detector in your house going off. It doesn’t always mean that there’s a fire but you sure want to check for one just in case. Snoring is that smoke alarm; Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the fire!
If you’ve read this far, congratulations, the knowledge you gain from reading on may actually save your life or a loved one. Unlike a toothache many patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea are not even aware of it.
So, Exactly what is Obstructive Sleep Apnea? Sleep apnea is a condition occurring when the soft tissues in the back of your throat collapse while you sleep, blocking air from reaching your lungs. Because of this, you experience pauses in breathing which may happen hundreds of times a night. Your brain will wake you up from sleep so that you can resume normal breathing. The result is that the body is not able to get a good nights rest and is not able to complete many of the regulatory functions that the body usually handles when you sleep.
The result of Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a myriad of life-threatening health problems such as:
High Blood Pressure
Daytime Sleepiness and Fatigue
Some of the most common causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea include:
Large tongue and/or tonsils
Small Airway due to the shape of your head and neck
So why is Snoring so important?
Remember when we said that in Obstructive Sleep Apnea the soft tissues in the back of the throat collapse while you sleep? Well, when you snore the soft tissues sort of collapse, just not all the way. The result is that the little stream of air that does get in sneaks in through a small opening which causes the air to speed up and it makes the soft palate vibrate creating that lovely snoring sound that we hear at night.
How can we diagnose Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Dr. Rodriguez is a trained sleep apnea dentist and a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM). Dr. Rodriguez can perform the necessary diagnostic tests for you. Many times this will involve an overnight sleep study, which can be completed in the comfort of your own home in your familiar surroundings as opposed to a sleep study center.
How can we treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Snoring?
There are various treatments for obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Rodriguez will usually recommend using what’s called a mandibular repositioning appliance. These devices have been found to be tolerated much better than traditional CPAP appliances. The appliance maintains the airway by preventing collapse of the soft tissues and it also treats the snoring.