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Sleep is a critical component of optimum health. But when you — or someone you live with — have an issue with snoring, a good night's rest can be hard to come by.
Snoring isn't just an annoying sound: It can signal a larger problem, like obstructive sleep apnea. People with this chronic disorder experience pauses in their breathing while they sleep, caused by a blockage or collapse of their airway. This not only leads to snoring but can also cause irregular heartbeats and increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, diabetes, heart attack and heart failure.1
Catch more Zs this month
May is Better Sleep Month, so if you or someone you love snores, now is the perfect time to do something about it. Treatment can depend on the seriousness of the underlying problem, and may range from simple lifestyle changes like losing weight and sleeping in a different position, to surgical procedures on the nasal passage, tongue or soft palate. But for mild sleep apnea, many snorers can find relief with a trip to the dentist.
The dental connection
Dentists often work together with physicians to address sleep apnea and sleep-related breathing disorders through a treatment known as oral appliance therapy. Here's how it typically works:
- The patient undergoes a sleep study at a sleep center accredited by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.
- If the patient is diagnosed with sleep apnea, the physician may recommend an oral appliance to be worn during sleep. This device is similar to an orthodontic retainer or sports mouth guard. It prevents the airway from closing by either holding the tongue down or supporting the jaw in a forward position.
- The dentist monitors the patient's progress and provides adjustments and long-term follow-up care.
In most mild or moderate cases of sleep apnea, or even simply for a case of snoring, oral appliance therapy can provide effective relief. Because the device is custom made for the contours of the patient's mouth, it can be comfortable and easy to wear.
Beware of imitations
Many drug stores and sports equipment retailers sell moldable mouth guards that can be softened in boiling water and shaped to one's mouth. However, the Center for Sleep Medicine cautions that unsupervised use of these over-the-counter devices can lead to dental damage and jaw problems. They do not recommended the devices as treatment for snoring and sleep apnea.2
Talk to your dentist to learn more about oral appliance therapy's potential to help you or the snorer in your life. Click here to find a dentist near you who accepts CareCredit.
What else can cause snoring?
Approximately 30 to 50 percent of Americans snore at some point in their lives,3 and it's not always a result of sleep apnea. Here are a few other common causes:
- Sleeping on your back
- Consuming alcohol or sedatives before bed
- Excess body weight
- Stuffy nose or clogged sinuses
- Dust and other allergens in your pillows, mattress and bedroom
All statements and opinions in "Better Sleep Month" are the sole opinions of the Customer Communications Group and not those of CareCredit. The content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual medical provider with respect to any professional advice presented. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms.