3 Steps to Reduce Snoring
By Dr. Tontra P. Lowe, DDS
Are you still sleeping on the sofa because your partner cannot sleep due to your loud snoring? Are you the uncle or aunt falling asleep at the family reunion as soon as you sit down? Does your older child wet the bed and you just can’t determine a solution? If so, you are not alone.
According to the American Sleep Apnea Association (SleepApnea.org), over 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is an involuntary stoppage of breathing while the person is sleeping. The airway is compromised, and breathing literally stops over and over during the sleep cycle. Over 80% of those that suffer from this condition are undiagnosed and continue to suffer needlessly along with other family members. You have options to save your sanity and your relationship.
Listen for the Symptoms
It is hard NOT to hear the number one symptom of sleep apnea—snoring. Snoring is considered to be a key indicator in the final diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It can embarrass you in front of roommates or just plain ruin sleep for everyone in the house. Sound familiar? Another noisy symptom is teeth grinding. In children, this is especially concerning and can lead to short, fractured teeth and eventually mouth pain. Elongated episodes of bed-wetting, anxiety with sleep-overs, and poor self-esteem can also sometimes be linked to an untreated airway condition. Be aware, not everyone with OSA snores, so pay attention to your body.
Seek Assistance from Your Oral Physician or Dentist
Your oral physician is a great advocate for you and your family. On most health history forms, they ask about snoring. Don’t skip the question; be honest and engage in a conversation. Untreated OSA can lead to increased strokes, depression, and increased traffic and job-related accidents. Sometimes you need more than a few cups of coffee. Your dentist is the first line of defense and can get you referred to a sleep physician for a final diagnosis. Obesity, large tonsils, type 2 diabetes, extensive wear on the teeth, and fractured teeth can all be linked.
Use Medical Insurance Benefits If Available
Solutions for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea can include wearing a mask to help deliver air while sleeping called a CPAP. For those who can’t tolerate something on their face, your dentist may be able to fabricate an oral sleep appliance that keeps your throat open instead. Your child may need to see an orthodontist to address a narrow palate to get relief. It’s possible that medical insurance will help cover some of the costs for these solutions. Find a dentist experienced in working with health insurance companies and get him or her to help you bill your health care provider for these appliances.
Call your dentist today and get off the sofa. Your bed partner will thank you and you’ll be full of energy at the next family reunion.
About the Expert
Expert: Dr. Tontra P. Lowe, DDS
Her Expertise: Dentistry
Dr. Tontra Lowe is an expert in creating smiles that change lives at Awesome Smiles Dental Center located near the Haymarket Kohl’s. She is also an avid writer, engaging public speaker, and supportive community leader. Learn more about her office and community engagement activities at facebook.com/AwesomeSmilesVA.