What Is Sleep Apnea? 

Sleep apnea (AP-ne-ah) is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. 

Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They often occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour.  Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.  

Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep. You often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep when your breathing pauses or becomes shallow. 

This results in poor sleep quality that makes you tired during the day.  Sleep apnea is one of the leading causes of excessive daytime sleepiness 

Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that requires long-term management.  Lifestyle changes, oral appliance therapy, surgery, and/or breathing devices can successfully treat sleep apnea in many people.  An oral appliance may help some people who have mild to moderate sleep apnea or who are CPAP intolerant.  Your doctor also may recommend an appliance if you snore loudly, but don’t have sleep apnea.  

A dentist can make a custom-fit appliance for treating sleep apnea. The appliance will adjust your lower jaw and your tongue to help keep your airways open while you sleep.  

If you use an appliance, tell your doctor if you have discomfort or pain while using the device.  You will need periodic office visits so your doctor can adjust your appliance to fit better.  

What is Snoring? 

You snore when the flow of air from your mouth or nose to your lungs makes the tissues of your throat vibrate when you sleep.  This can make a loud, raspy noise.  Loud snoring can make it hard for you and your partner to get a good night’s sleep. 

You may not know that you snore.  Your bed partner may notice the snoring and that you sleep with your mouth open.  If snoring keeps you or your bed partner from getting a good night’s sleep, one or both of you may feel tired during the day. 

Snoring may point to other medical problems, such as obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can be a serious problem, because you stop breathing at times during sleep.  So if you snore often, talk to your doctor about it. 

Snoring is more common in men than in women. 

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea
Video Transcript

What causes snoring?

When you sleep, the muscles in the back of the roof of your mouth (soft palate), tongue, and throat relax.  If they relax too much, they narrow or block your airway.  As you breathe, your soft palate and uvula vibrate and knock against the back of your throat.  This causes the sounds you hear during snoring. 

The tonsils and adenoids may also vibrate.  The narrower the airway is, the more the tissue vibrates, and the louder the snoring is. 

Call the team at Summit Dental of La Mesa at (619) 494-2492 for a consultation to develop an effective snoring treatment plan and help you get restful sleep