Snoring & Sleep Apnea

Snoring isn’t just an annoyance. It’s a serious condition that may raise your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular disorders, heart failure, dementia, memory problems, obesity, diabetes, and depression

It may also be a sign of sleep apnea – a disorder in which you periodically stop breathing through the night. Each lapse in breathing can last from a handful of seconds to minutes, depriving your brain of oxygen.

Sleep apnea is a serious medical disorder that can greatly affect your overall health. It can even kill.

What Causes It?

During sleep, the muscles and soft tissues in your throat and mouth relax. This can partly block your airway – more so if you’re overweight or obese – which means you have to breathe more forcefully. This makes the surrounding soft tissues vibrate, creating the noise we call snoring.

But in some cases, those tissues can block the airway almost completely, resulting in apneic episodes.

In other cases, the problem arises from misaligned or weak jaws. For instance, if the lower jaw naturally falls toward the back of your mouth – retrudes – this, too, can block the airway during sleep.

In both cases, sleep appliance therapy may be of help.

How We Can Help

Research has consistently shown that oral appliance therapy can be an effective, frontline treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea.

Though there are many types of appliances, most work by pulling the lower jaw forward or otherwise enlarging the airway. Such therapy is affordable, comfortable, non-invasive, and effective.

Sleep apnea itself can only be diagnosed by an overnight sleep study to get a polysomnogram – a comprehensive record of the biophysiological changes that happen during sleep.

With those results – whether they show apnea or “just snoring” – Dr. Shields can work with you and your sleep study physician to see if one of our dental therapies can work for you.

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