What Causes Snoring?
Snoring occurs when the soft tissue structures of the upper airway collapse onto themselves and vibrate against each other as we attempt to move air through them. This produces the sound we know as snoring. Large tonsils, a long soft palate, a large tongue, the uvula, and excess fat deposits in the throat all contribute to airway narrowing and snoring. Usually, the more narrow the airway space, the louder or more habitual the snoring.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs when the tongue and soft palate collapse onto the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway, causing air flow to stop. When the oxygen level drops low enough, the brain moves out of deep sleep and the individual partially awakens. The airway then contracts and opens, causing the obstruction in the throat to clear. The flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp. When the air flow starts again, you then move back into a deep sleep. The airway muscles collapse, as you awaken with a gasp. The airway clears once again as the process repeats itself. This scenario may occur many times during the night. The combination of low oxygen levels and fragmented sleep are the major contributors to most of the ill effects that the sleep apnea patient suffers. In addition to excessive daytime sleepiness, studies show that sleep apnea patients are much more likely to suffer from heart problems (heart attack, congestive heart failure, hypertension), strokes, as well as having a higher incidence of work related and driving related accidents.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is pressurized air generated from a bedside machine. The air is delivered through a tube, connected to a mask, covering the nose. The force of the pressurized air keeps the airway open. The CPAP opens the airway like air into a balloon; when air is blown into the balloon, it opens and gets wider. This is exactly how CPAP clears the airway.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliances are worn in the mouth to treat snoring and OSA. These devices are similar to orthodontic retainers or sports mouth guards. Oral Appliance Therapy involves the selection, design, fitting and use of a custom designed oral appliance that is worn during sleep. This appliance then attempts to maintain an opened, unobstructed airway in the throat. The appliances we use are comfortable and have been approved by the FDA for treatment of snoring and/or Sleep Apnea.