Snoring & OSA
While snoring may be more of a nuisance to your spouse and your family, it is one of the indicators for a much more serious condition called "Obstructive Sleep Apnea" or OSA. Due to the position of the tongue, the airway will actually be blocked and breathing will stop. This results in a lack of oxygen available to the brain and other organs, which may result in serious health problems.
During sleep, the tongue falls back into the airway, partially blocking it. This leads to snoring as the partial obstruction "vibrates". If the tongue falls further back, or the airway is constricted for other reasons, air cannot get through and results in Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The goal of treatment is to open up the airway through the advancement of the lower jaw with a dental appliance.
Generally, the only treatment offered for OSA has been the CPAP machine (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), which keeps the airway open by directing a steady stream of high-pressure air through the mouth or nose. While considered the "gold standard" of treatment, many patients find the CPAP hard to use and are looking for an alternative. The Midhurst TMD and Sleep Therapy Clinic offers several types of appliances that move the lower jaw forward (Mandibular Advancement Splints or MAS), which pull the tongue off the airway, and tighten the surrounding muscles, improving airway patency.
For more information on snoring and sleep apnea, please visit Dr. Henderson's page at Snoring Isn't Sexy, one of the largest groups of dentists in North America who treat sleep apnea!