Is Snoring Harmful?

Although sleeping partners are bound to disagree, many people believe that snoring is a harmless nuisance, with no notable negative health effects.

Indeed, for some people, snoring is just an annoyance. For other patients, however, snoring may signal sleep apnea. Patients whose snoring is a sign of sleep apnea may face significant health risks from the condition. Dentists can help to mitigate these risks.

Sleep apnea goes beyond routine snoring. It also involves periodic disruptions in breathing as a person sleeps, creating the potential for heart failure and stroke, as well as less dangerous conditions, such as daytime fatigue. In most cases, sleep apnea is obstructive, occurring when the soft tissues at the back of the throat collapse and block the airway.

Patients with obstructive sleep apnea have several different treatment options. They may wear a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask while they sleep to maintain the proper airway pressure. Dental appliances that reposition the jaw during sleep may also be helpful, as they can prevent airway blockages.

When patients don’t respond to less invasive interventions, an oral surgeon may need to step in. The surgeon may perform a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (say that ten times fast!) to excise some of the soft tissue at the back of the throat to alleviate sleep apnea. A surgical procedure may also be sued to correct a misalignment of the jaw if the malocclusion contributes to the sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea patients may also opt for surgery if they find the CPAP mask or dental appliance so uncomfortable that the appliance is as disruptive to the sleep as the apnea is.

Typically, sleep apnea is brought to a patient’s attention by a sleep partner, but other symptoms, such as morning headaches and pervasive drowsiness, may also indicate a problem. If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, you will need to complete a sleep study for a conclusive diagnosis. Then, you can discuss your treatment options with an oral surgeon.

Even garden-variety snoring can be addressed through oral surgery, so if you have this problem, consider being treated for it—and giving your partner some nighttime peace—too.

For more information and to schedule your professional consultation in Charlottesville VA, contact the office of Dr. Carlos Rafael Ibañez.

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