It is estimated that anywhere from 45% to 70% of people in North America snore during sleep. Snoring occurs due to vibration of the soft tissues in the throat as the air passes through a narrowed, partly collapsed airway. Aside from being the subject of jokes, snoring has more significant implications.
The good news is that snoring can be eliminated, however, it should be done under proper medical supervision.
Approximately 45% of snorers have some degree of OSA which has many negative repercussions as explained below.
OSA is a condition where breathing stops momentarily, for 10 seconds or more at a time, many times during sleep because of a physical obstruction in the throat. The obstruction can be caused by large tonsils, the tongue falling back during sleep or the collapse of the airway. Most people are not aware that they suffer from OSA which may manifest itself through any of the symptoms below:
Some of the risks involve:
Studies have shown that patients with untreated severe OSA can expect to die 8 to 10 years earlier than those without OSA. Given the fact that 60% of patients over 40 years old snore and two out of six have OSA, the result is an alarming rate of 85% of people with OSA go undiagnosed.
In January 2006, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued new guidelines for the treatment of OSA. It stated that oral appliances delivered by dentists should be the first line of treatment for mild to moderate cases of OSA.
It must be emphasized that an official diagnosis can only be made by a certified medical practitioner, such as a sleep or an E.N.T. (Ear Nose and Throat) specialist. Dentists, therefore, need to work closely with patients’ family doctors and their specialists to provide each patient with customized optimal care.
During regular dental visits, Dr. Peter often identifies a great number of potential OSA patients whom he refers back to their doctors for an official diagnosis. The majority of OSA patients at our office are often unwilling or unable to use CPAP (face mask) treatment, experienced failed surgical intervention or did not want surgical intervention. They did, however, benefit from our oral appliance therapy.
If you think that you or a member of your family may have OSA, we urge you to discuss the matter with Dr. Peter and your family doctor.