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Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Everybody snores from time to time. However, what should you do if your or your partner’s snoring becomes chronic? Chronic snoring can be disruptive, leading to poor sleep quality and health problems. 

But what does your sleep health have to do with your oral health? Read on to learn more about the relationship between your teeth and sleep apnea. 

What is Sleep Apnea?

When you’re sleeping, the muscles and tissues in your mouth, jaw, and throat naturally relax. However, over time these muscles and tissues are affected by environmental factors like gravity, declining collagen production, and other health factors such as obesity. 

Eventually, they can become too relaxed and collapse, obstructing your airway, and making it difficult to breathe, resulting in airway restrictions such as sleep apnea. Sometimes this can actually stop your breathing for 10 or more seconds multiple times during one night, mimicking acute suffocation, as if someone was choking you while you slept.

This decreased flow of oxygen can result in higher anxiety and stress, nocturnal grinding, sudden and repeated awakenings throughout the night, overall poor quality of sleep, and even brain damage. Call Solis Dental today to see how we can help you sleep better!

How Does My Oral Health Cause Sleep Apnea?

Your chronic snoring could be caused by a number of factors. Certain habits such as alcohol, smoking, drinking, and sleeping in certain positions can contribute to a blocked airway and snoring. However, oral health and the physiology of your teeth and mouth can also contribute to snoring and several serious health conditions.

Oral Health Factors That Might Cause Snoring:

Crowded Teeth

A crowded smile, especially for those with a small or narrow jaw, leaves less room for the tongue to sit comfortably and often pushes it further back into the mouth closing the airway. Additionally, palates can vault up and narrow which can limit the nasal airway passages.

Missing Teeth

You may have lost a tooth in an injury, or had some surgically removed. Missing teeth can impact your mouth and narrow your airway which can contribute to snoring.

Misaligned Jaw

An overbite or TMJ can cause your jaw to struggle to support itself during sleep. Without proper jaw support, your tongue may be partially blocking your airway. Narrow arch forms can limit airway space, including even making nasal spaces and sinuses diminish due to high vaulted palates (roof of the mouth) which can cause more mouth breathing and less nasal breathing. 

Mouth breathing can lead to misalignment of the head, neck and spine. Ideally, nasal breathing is the preferred and healthier way to intake air in most circumstances. 

Teeth Grinding

It’s no surprise that grinding or clenching the teeth is a common problem, especially during sleep. Also known as bruxism, this can lead to a number of health complications.

Restricted Tissue Movement — Lip- and Tongue-Ties

Studies such as “Lingual Frenuloplasty with Myofunctional Therapy” by Dr. Zaghi show that relieving tongue-ties in conjunction “with myofunctional therapy is safe and potentially effective for the treatment of mouth breathing, snoring, clenching, and myofascial tension.”

More supporting evidence is linking the importance that lip and tongue-ties have on the following:

  • Jaw development and formation

  • Fascial tension in muscles and posture

  • Migraines and headaches

  • Speech

  • Feeding and swallowing

  • Teeth positioning and occlusion

  • Proper airway and sleep

  • Underdeveloped muscles which can result in overly relaxed tissues and snoring

Overly Relaxed Throat Muscles or Enlarged Tissue

If the muscles in your throat and tongue are too relaxed during sleep, they begin to vibrate against each other, partially blocking airflow. This is exactly what causes that dreaded snore. 

This occurs in combination with other enlarged or crowded tissues restricting the airway. Apart from the tongue being too posterior, enlarged tongues, tonsils, and adenoids can all be partially responsible to diminishing space for precious oxygen intake and increased snoring.

Additional Resources

Health-Related Concerns Due to Sleep Apnea

How do you know if your chronic snoring is the result of a dental issue? Of course, we always recommend that you visit our office if you’re experiencing any issues. In the office, we can do a thorough examination and help you determine if your teeth are possibly related to the cause of your snoring.

Here are some symptoms to watch out for that signal your snoring is related to your oral health or obstructive sleep apnea versus anything else:

  • Sore or painful jaw: Ever find yourself waking up with a sore jaw, it could be a sign that your snoring is the result of improper jaw positioning or posture, or even significant clenching or grinding due to stress or less than ideal breathing. This can also be seen in unusual jaw popping throughout your daily actions.

  • Gasping for breath: If you find yourself gasping for breath when you wake up, this is a sign that you may have sleep apnea caused by swollen or overly relaxed tissue in the throat or back of the mouth.

  • Tooth breakage or receding gums: If you notice the structure of your teeth showing stress fractures (sensitive triangular indents in the teeth) near the gum line, this could be a sign that you’re grinding your teeth at night or teeth are malpositioned. Stress fractures result in recession of the gingival tissue and expose the sensitive parts of the tooth. A lack of proper airflow and snoring may be at the root of your clenching and grinding. 

  • Swollen gums or dry mouth: Mouth breathing is an indication that the body is struggling to intake oxygen via the nasal passages. Your body reacts by opening the mouth in an attempt to intake more air. This naturally dries out the mouth which can increase gum inflammation leading to swollen or sensitive gums. Dry mouth also increases cavity risk. 

  • Tooth erosion and thinning: Acid reflux has been shown to be correlated with obstructive sleep apnea. This can result in eroded or soft teeth which often presents in yellowing and shorter, thinner teeth. 

  • Bumps in your jaw: Variations in bone formation can be genetic, but how the bone responds to stimuli is often overlooked. Improper teeth positioning and a lack of proper breathing can result in the grinding of teeth and excessive bite forces. This extra stress on the bone results in extra bone growth as the body’s attempt to reinforce and adapt to the increased force. These bony growths can become significantly large enough to limit tongue space and mobility!

Why Visit Us for Sleep Apnea Treatment?

You may be fully aware of the impact snoring can have on your short-term sleep and comfort. But what you might not be fully aware of are the long-term effects airway restrictions like sleep apnea can have on your life. 

Chronic snoring and sleep apnea are associated with many longer-term problems and risks, including:

  • Brain Damage

  • Dementia

  • Stroke

  • Heart Disease

  • Acid Reflux / GERD

  • Hypoxia

  • Anxiety

  • Chronic Stress

  • Arrhythmia

  • Early Death

How Can We Help?

If you’re still dealing with snoring and you suspect there may be an underlying issue, there are other treatments that can be utilized depending on the root cause:

  • Invisalign and Orthodontics (teeth straightening)

  • Nightlase (tissue tightening and snoring treatment)

  • Wisdom teeth removal

  • Lip- and tongue-tie releases

  • Tonsil reduction

  • Oral obstructive sleep apnea device

  • A mouth guard to support and relax your jaw while reducing effects of grinding

  • Nasal breathing exercises and decongestants

  • A Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) machine from a sleep physician

  • Surgical options performed by an ENT or oral surgeon, inclufing tonsil removal, jaw surgery, or upper airway surgery

The cause of your snoring and/or restricted airway will significantly impact the appropriate type of prevention and treatment. Be sure to visit our offices and we can help identify the potential factors related to your snoring and provide you with guidance and treatment.

Call Us Today To Find Out More About Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Ready for better sleep? Solis Dental has the tools to make sure you breathe easier and stay healthy. Schedule an appointment to get started!

Hours of Operation:
Monday: 9am – 7pm
Tuesday – Thursday: 10am – 7pm
Friday*: 10am – 5pm
Saturday*: 10am – 4pm
Sunday: Closed
~~Operations may vary~~
*Fridays and Saturdays usually alternate