My dentist brought up the snoring problem with my husband, and he wants to treat him. This seems strange to me, to have a dentist help you with snoring. Is this legitimate?
–Monique in Arkansas
Your husband is not alone—approximately eighty-seven million Americans snore. And snoring may be a sign of an undiagnosed sleep disorder that can have a serious affect on his health.
A lot of dentists are getting involved in treating snoring and sleep apnea. The reason dentists are particularly suited to doing this, more than physicians or other health professionals, is that often the most effective treatment is an appliance that is fitted to your teeth. A physician wouldn’t know how to take an impression of your teeth to be able to fit one of these appliances. So yes, this is legitimate, and I would commend your dentist for addressing this problem.
We also treat snoring and sleep apnea in our office with the Somno-Med appliance. Here’s a little background on the subject. Snoring happens when your airway becomes partially blocked, such as when your tongue falls back as you sleep or your soft palate gets in the way. This narrowed airway causes your throat to vibrate, which is snoring. In many cases, your body continues to get adequate oxygen and no harm is done.
However, this partial blockage of your airway while you are sleeping can be more serious, a problem we call obstructive sleep apnea, where his breathing is actually interrupted. This will prevent a good night’s sleep, and the oxygen deprivation is a threat to your health. Sleep apnea can be a contributing factor in heart attacks and strokes.