Snoring

It is very probable that you or a member of your family snores. Currently, statistics confirm that at least 65% of men and 40% of women snore. It is calculated that, on average, at least one person in each household snores.

However, until recently this problem has not had the attention it deserves. In some cases of severe snoring, nocturnal sleep apnoea can appear with serious health implications. In this syndrome, the entrance of air delivered through respiration does not pass to the superior airways, but the movement of the diaphragm continues. This happens during sleep, and is the result of the collapse or total obstruction of the airways. The patient wakes up with a very loud snore and straight away falls back to sleep. However, this can cause sleep fragmentation, poor cellular oxygenation and a sensation of tiredness the following day.

Why do we snore?

Snoring is produced by the combination of different causes: Exaggerated relaxation of the tongue, a weakening of the perioral musculature, and a displacement backwards of the jawbone and the lips during sleep.

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To simplify, it can be said that the tongue sleeps together with the person who snores, but the diaphragm continues awake. This tongue has lost its normal tonicity and it covers the airways when the diaphragm tries to inspire air. In this way, the posterior part of the tongue turns into the anterior wall of the airway, reducing the aperture and causing the air to travel faster. The result is vibrations of the soft palate and the uvula, commonly known as snoring.

Relation of snoring to dental malpositions and temporomandibular joint problems

People who have the greatest predisposition to snoring are those who have an occlusion with retrusion of the jawbone, as it is then easier for the tongue to displace backwards; and also those who have an overocclusion (i.e. the superior incisors almost impede visualisation of the inferior ones when the mouth is closed).

This condition is often related to problems of joint pain and dysfunction. Due to this, in some cases the treatments of airway dysfunctions of the snoring type are also beneficial for the avoidance of joint compressions and headaches.

The Treatments

Until recently, there has been no simple treatment for the majority of snorers who only suffer from a slight apnoea. The severe cases are treated with more complex techniques. Today we know that the level of reflexes of the light snorer are reduced the following day. Due to this, different apparatus normally used in other fields of odontology have been modified to help people eliminate or improve their snoring in slight or moderate cases. The results do not only benefit the snorer, but the family members who live with him/her also experience relief. The treatment tends to consist of acrylic apparatus which are placed over the mouth of the snorer at night, which avoids the problem whilst worn and can be used when sleeping for the rest of the snorers life.

The results do not only benefit the snorer, but the family members who live with him/her also experience relief. The treatment tends to consist of acrylic apparatus which are placed over the mouth of the snorer at night, which avoids the problem whilst worn and can be used when sleeping for the rest of the snorers life.