Our team of healthcare professionals offers a wide range of surgical and non-surgical treatments for snoring and sleep apnea. Such services include: sleep testing, CPAP prescription and titration and upper airway surgery for snoring and sleep apnea.
What’s the link between snoring and sleep apnea?
Snoring occurs when the upper segments of the respiratory tract are partially obstructed during sleep. The sound is generated when air passing through the restricted airway causes the soft palate, uvula and throat to vibrate. Snoring can be a sign of a more serious problem called obstructive sleep apnea that can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and important health problems.
What are the causes?
Snoring is typically caused by the relaxation and subsequent collapse of the uvula and soft palate during sleep. However treating snoring and obstructive sleep apnea is extremely complex, as the mechanisms underlying these conditions are numerous and vary from patient to patient. The root of every patient’s snoring or apnea must therefore be established to deliver a personalized and effective treatment.
What are the risk factors?
Being overweight increases one’s chances of snoring. Furthermore, sleep apnea and snoring are more common in older individuals and start to appear in the third and fourth decades of life. Another important determinant is the anatomy of the upper airway and the structural relationships between its different constituents.
How can I find out if I have sleep apnea as well as a snoring problem?
Snorers showing signs of excessive daytime sleepiness and hypertension or who’s partners have witnessed them stop breathing during sleep should consider sleep testing, as they may be affected by obstructive sleep apnea. This test is also required for patients who plan on undergoing surgery for sleep apnea or snoring.
Why treat snoring?
Snoring per se has no impact on one’s health. It effects are solely social, as the noise may disrupt other’s sleep.
Why treat sleep apnea?
The effects of sleep apnea on one’s well-being are sometimes overlooked, as patients are more preoccupied on resolving their snoring issues. The consequences of untreated sleep apnea are serious and can divide in two categories:
_ Health problems: Respiratory arrest causes blood oxygen levels to drop. This in turn massive stress on the cardiovascular system as it attempts to compensate for the lack of oxygen. Medium and long term consequences of this stress include arterial hypertension and increased stroke and myocardial infarction risk resulting in decreased life expectancy.
_ Decreased quality of life: Frequent respiratory arrests during sleep prevent patients from falling into a deep sleep (restorative sleep). This may lead to disrupted sleep, fatigue, headaches, decreased memory and concentration problems. However, it’s important to note that the severity of these symptoms is not necessarily linked to the severity of sleep apnea. A diagnostic sleep test is therefore required before considering the medical or surgical treatment of snoring or sleep apnea.
How can sleep apnea be treated?
Common treatments for sleep apnea may include weight loss, positional therapy, and decreased alcohol and sedative intake before bed.
10 tips to reduce snoring
Weight loss, especially in men, may reduce snoring and sleep apnea severity. Sleep position can also play an important role in snoring and sleep apnea. Several patients only snore when on their back and apneas may be increased in this position. Positional therapy uses devices conceived to keep individuals on their sides during sleep, thus reducing their propensity to suffer from these conditions.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP, BiPAP, AutoPAP) is the treatment of choice for obstructive sleep apnea. These devices pump pressurized air into a mask worn at night. These splints open the upper airway, preventing its collapse and ensuring unobstructed breathing during sleep. When used adequately, CPAP is the most effective therapy for obstructive sleep apnea. Unfortunately, it’s often poorly tolerated by patients who find themselves seeking alternative treatments.
Several surgical options exist for obstructive sleep apnea. These procedures target specifics sites responsible for upper airway narrowing and/or collapse. Such sites include the nose, soft palate, tongue, and jaws.
Dentist-made mandibular advancement devices are a non-surgical alternative to treat snoring and light to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea.