Snoring is caused by narrowing of your airway during sleep. When your airway becomes too narrow for you to breathe easily, it results in a turbulent airflow. That bumpy air causes your throat and other tissues to vibrate, which is the source of the sound.
Although minor snoring may be caused by restriction of airflow in your nostrils, serious snoring often occurs because of the airway narrowing in your throat.
The problem is that your airway is mostly soft tissue, supported during the day by muscles and gravity. When you lie down at night, gravity pulls your airway closed, and when your muscles relax in sleep, your airway hangs on just two bones: the hyoid bone and the jawbone. The hyoid bone is not connected to any other bone in the body, so it relies on muscles for its support. Which leaves your jawbone as the only major support for your airway.
If your jawbone isn’t properly positioned to support your airway, the airway will narrow—leading to snoring or collapse. When your airway collapses entirely, it stops your breathing, called sleep apnea.
Dangers of Snoring
Snoring isn’t just a nuisance, it’s a health danger. Snoring is a sign that you’re not breathing properly during sleep, which prevents you from getting the rest you need. You also may not be aware of it, but the sound of your snoring isn’t just waking up your bed partner, it’s waking you up, too. Snorers are less rested during the day, and much more likely to fall asleep while driving or during other dangerous tasks requiring concentration.
And snoring shows you are at risk of sleep apnea. Although snoring is easy to notice, it’s harder to notice when your breathing stops. If you are a snorer, you should be evaluated for sleep apnea.
One of the most successful methods for treating snoring is to reposition the jaw so that it does a better job of supporting your airway. We can do this with an oral appliance, similar to a sports mouthguard, that you wear while you sleep. This is comfortable, convenient, and effective.
Similar products are advertised for sale over-the-counter, but these products do not allow for maximum customization that ensures your airway will stay open at night. Even boil-and-bite varieties aren’t really being adjusted to your bite. Strips that can dilate your nostrils may work, if your nose is the source of your snoring, which is less common than people think.
Surgical treatments for snoring are expensive, unreliable, and risky. They should be considered only after other options have been tried and found to be ineffective.
Home treatments can be effective at reducing or eliminating snoring for some people. Try changing your sleeping position. Side sleepers snore less than back sleepers. Losing weight can also help, and even if you don’t lose weight, increasing exercise can also help, especially if your exercise includes exercise for throat muscles (such as singing or playing a wind instrument). Finally, improving your sleep environment by eliminating allergens and irritants will reduce swelling in your airway, allowing you to breathe easier.
If you would like to learn more about your snoring treatment options in Westchester County, please call (914) 526-2144 or contact Advanced Dentistry of Mohegan Lake today for an appointment.