Snoring may seem like a noisy but otherwise harmless trait that some people have and some people don’t. The reality, however, is that snoring can be both indicative of a larger issue and the cause of numerous health problems.
What Causes Snoring?
Snoring is the result of an individual’s airway being partially blocked while they are sleeping. This occurs because, during sleep, the muscles in the roof of the mouth, throat, and tongue relax and do so enough to partly impede the airway. The sound of snoring is created by the throat’s soft tissues vibrating as air flows through and the narrower an airway becomes, the more forced the air flow will be. Thus, the snoring becomes louder.
Snoring or habitual snoring occurs in as much as 40% of males, 24% of females, and 10-12% of children. One of the reasons why it is such a common occurrence is because of all the conditions that lend themselves to the development of snoring. For instance, such things as anatomical conditions (larger tonsils or adenoids), nasal problems (chronic nasal congestion), use of alcohol, sedatives, and tobacco, age, family history, and pregnancy are all factors that could contribute to the likelihood of chronic snoring.
Snoring and Oral Health
Snoring plays a role in the development of larger issues, specifically in your oral health. One of the direct effects of snoring is dry mouth or a lack of salivary flow. Dry mouth, then, can result in such difficulties as follows:
- A dry or sore throat
- Trouble with actions like chewing, tasting, swallowing, or speaking
- Altered taste or developed intolerance for salty, spicy, or sour foods/drinks
- Infections in the mouth
- Inability to retain dentures
- Mouth prosthesis that suddenly fit poorly
- Peeling, dry, or emaciated lips
- Bad breath
Saliva is necessary to moisten oral tissue and a lack of its flow can lead to problems like burning mouth syndrome, infections and sores, gum disease, and tooth decay. As saliva is meant to cleanse the gums, cheeks, and tongue of dead cells, little to no saliva means that these dead cells accumulate. The build-up of these dead cells creates an odor and little salivary flow can allow other harmful things like bacteria to grow far too quickly. As snoring can contribute to the absence of proper salivary flow, it’s important to consider or discuss treatment options with us.
Snoring can be indicative of disorders such as sleep apnea – a condition that results in frequent pauses in breathing while you sleep that might disturb your rest. Sleep apnea might be brought up by us during your regular examinations, but we are not able to properly diagnose it in our office. If we believe that your snoring may indicate sleep apnea or other sleep disorders, we will encourage you to see a professional who specializes in sleep disorders.
What We Offer
Typically, snoring can be treated in the same way that obstructive sleep apnea is – with an oral appliance. An oral appliance is a mouthpiece worn on your upper jaw to support it in a forward position and subsequently maintain a proper, healthy airflow. It is important to note that the use of an oral appliance may cause some side effects. These include excessive saliva, joint pain, facial muscle pain, bite changes, and dental discomfort. However, most of these effects are considered minor and are generally considered less problematic in the face of a condition that requires the use of an oral appliance. Naturally, we can speak with you and weigh the pros and cons of this particular treatment to help you make an informed decision.
If you have any questions or concerns about the effects of snoring on oral health, treatment in the form of an oral appliance, or anything else, we encourage you to contact our Portland, ME office today!