Shawn L. Thompson, DDS, Inc.
(418) 287 - 3205

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Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder. It is characterized by infrequent breaths called “apnea” taken during sleep. These last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, and occur at least five times per hour. These pauses cause you to gasp and choke. This interferes with your sleep. People with sleep apnea snore, though not everyone who snores has the condition.

Woman lying awake in bed and staring at the ceiling.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Snores that are loud and chronic are the most common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. Feel tired during the day? This is a common symptom too. Or, you might experience pauses in your breathing followed by chokes or gasps. Since you're asleep, you may not know this is happening but those who sleep near you often do!

Other warning signs include:

  • Headaches in the morning
  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Irritability, depression, mood swings, or personality changes
  • You wake up frequently to urinate
  • Dry mouth or sore throat when you wake

While not common, some children do have sleep apnea. A few symptoms of children with this condition include, snoring and restless sleep, hyperactivity, bedwetting beyond a normal age, and irritable or cranky behavior. It's also common for children with sleep apnea to breathe through their mouths instead of their noses.

What is Snoring?

When air cannot freely move through your nose and throat, you snore. The surrounding throat tissues vibrate to produce the tell-tale sound. The position of your tongue in your throat also can obstruct your breath while you sleep.

The first step to eliminating snoring is to identify what causes it. Whether the cause of your snoring is health-related, lifestyle-related, or due to sleep apnea, we can help.

Woman lying in bed on her side awake and covering her ears with her hands while partner is fast asleep and snoring in the background.

Sleep Apnea or Snoring?

Do you have sleep apnea? Or do you just snore? This is an important question for your health.

Sleep apnea is a life-threatening condition that requires medical attention. Concerned you might have sleep apnea? It is important to share this with your doctor. He or she has treatment options to help. They also might refer you to have a sleep study conducted at a specialized clinic to confirm you experience this condition.

Snoring Prevention with Oral Appliance Therapy

Whether the cause of your snoring is health-related, lifestyle-related, or due to sleep apnea, we can help.

Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment protocol. We provide a custom-fit appliance you wear each night. The device fits inside your mouth like an athletic mouth guard. It keeps your jaw in a forward position, which keeps your airway open. This eliminates your snores and improves your sleep, alertness and overall health.

Ask your doctor about oral appliance therapy. In some cases, you need your doctor’s prescription to seek oral appliance therapy.

Sleep Apnea

The Oral Appliance Therapy Procedure

Ready for oral appliance therapy? We make the process easy.

At your first visit, we'll discuss all aspects of treatment with you, including cost. From there, we'll conduct a complete examination of your teeth, jaw, tongue, and airway and take X-ray images of your mouth.

The next step is to make and fit your oral appliance. We use digital and/or physical impressions of your teeth for this. Once your appliance is ready, we'll have you return to our office for a fitting and adjustments to ensure the appliance is comfortable. We also provide instructions to clean and maintain your appliance.

In some cases, we recommend a follow-up visit to make sure the fit of your appliance remains optimal and an annual assessment to ensure the long-term success of your appliance.

Causes of Snoring

Sleep apnea makes you snore, but not all people who snore have this condition. There are a variety of reasons that people snore.

For example, if you are overweight chances are you snore. Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to this. Even a small amount of excess weight around your neck or throat could make you snore. Age is also a factor. Over the years, your throat becomes narrow and muscle tone decreases.

Your biology may play a role in snoring. Men have more narrow air passages than women which can lead to snoring. A narrow throat, cleft palate, enlarged adenoids, nasal and sinus problems, or something as simple as a stuffy nose blocks your airways and causes you to snore.

Man lying on his back in bed and sleeping with mouth slightly open to imply snoring.

Prevent Snoring

Oral appliance therapy is the best way to prevent this noisy nighttime habit. We also recommend you make these lifestyle changes:

  • Avoid alcohol and medicines that slow your breathing.
  • Eat well, exercise, and maintain your weight.
  • Go to bed at the same time each night and get plenty of sleep.
  • Sleep on your side, not on your back. Sew a pocket in the middle of the back of your nighttime shirt. Place the ball inside the pocket, then stitch it up. This keeps you off your back while you sleep.
  • Quit smoking to reduce inflammation and a swollen airway.
  • Raise the head of your bed four to six inches, or 10-15 centimeters. It is best to put bricks under the legs of your bed. Your tongue will not roll back into your throat.
  • Treat breathing problems such as a stuffy nose.

You Deserve a Good Night’s Sleep!

If you snore due to sleep apnea or other lifestyle factors, we want to help. Contact us for an appointment to begin your oral appliance therapy today. You and your partner will be glad you did!

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