One of my favorite questions to ask is a follow-up question. Allow me to explain. Whenever I hear that someone snores or occasionally has snoring issues, I like asking them, “Who would you go see to treat that?” It’s a fun question for a couple of reasons. First of all, many folks don’t even consider snoring to be something that requires medical treatment. I know there are millions of Americans who snore, but it’s not a foregone conclusion! Snoring can definitely improve or be controlled.
The second reason is that these people usually answer the question incorrectly. Most of them probably haven’t even considered who would treat such a problem, so they usually think it’s up to a general physician. But in truth, your dentist should be in charge of your snoring treatment.
That’s because many dentists have been trained to diagnose and treat sleep apnea, which is the root cause of snoring. No matter what is behind your snoring, the mechanism of the problem is always the same: snoring is caused by the blockage of the airway. And blockage of the airway is the primary problem behind sleep apnea.
- So Why is it An Oral Health Issue?
Because snoring is caused by the tissues in the back of your throat or your tongue. The airway can become blocked for multiple reasons, such as throat muscles that are too relaxed. They will flop around at night and block your throat from receiving sufficient oxygen. Or, if your tongue is large or especially floppy, it could flop backwards and block the airway as well.
Additionally, it’s an oral health issue because successful treatment will definitely include your mouth. The two most effective and popular sleep apnea treatments actually involve your mouth pretty intensely. Here’s how:
- Oral Appliance Therapy: This method is the simpler one, and it basically involves wearing a specially created nightguard in your mouth while you sleep. The mouthguard looks like something Manny Pacquiao would wear in the ring, and it keeps the airway open by either holding the tongue in place or jutting the jaw forward (the method is up to you and your dentist).
- CPAP Machine: This machine provides Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) via a hose attached to a facemask. There are countless types of facemask on the market, but each must be worn throughout the night. Although this method is effective, it can be difficult to adjust to for claustrophobic individuals or those who require absolute silence for sleep – modern CPAP machines are very quiet, but not completely silent.