A social taboo: snoring and its causes
Around 30 million people in Germany – or 40% of populations in industrialised nations – snore, men more commonly than women. Less disturbing at first, snoring can lead to insomnia and health issues in the bedroom in the long term. What causes snoring, how is it treated and how the Dental Clinic Dr. Pink | Dr. Wolferstaetter | Colleaguescan help is explained in the following article.
What causes snoring?
Muscle relaxation during sleep leads to a narrowing of the upper respiratory tract. Breathing is accelerated to ensure an adequate oxygen supply. Soft tissue in the larynx and throat begin to vibrate as a result of the increased frequency causing a snoring sound. Anatomical characteristics such as a long uvula, constricted paranasal sinuses, enlarged tonsils, jaw misalignment or an unusually curved nasal septum are often at the root of the problem. Over three quarters of those who snore do so in a certain sleeping position, mostly when laying on their backs. In this position gravity causes the tongue to fall backwards constricting the airways as described above.
Alcohol and excess weight can contribute to snoring. Allergy sufferers are also affected: mites and dust cause the nasal mucous membranes to become inflamed constricting the breathing.
When is snoring dangerous? Sleep apnoea
Snoring can be dangerous when, during heavy snoring, there is suddenly a pause in the breathing (apnoea) and this is repeated throughout the night. Those affected report that they are over-tired and sleep-deprived because their sleep pattern is continually disrupted. Sleep apnoea sufferers tend to nod off, for example microsleep at the wheel of a car. In the long term serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks or depression can result.
Diagnosis & therapy
If snoring becomes unbearable and/or you are experiencing signs of permanent tiredness, depression or generally feeling unwell, you should consult your GP urgently. She will generally transfer you to a lung specialist who can perform sleep diagnostics. Once an exact diagnosis has been confirmed a decision can be made on a suitable form of therapy. In many cases a mandibular advancement splint can provide relief, which can be obtained from an experienced dentist. This anti-snore device pulls the lower jaw forward (also known as protrusion). This creates more space to breath in the area of the throat behind the tongue, and snoring is eliminated. Dr. Pink & Dr. Wolferstaetter’s dental practice makes custom-made mandibular advancement splints. A dual splint system in the upper and lower jaws provides comfort and makes optimal jaw alignment possible. A fundamental requirement is that the splint is worn every day and checked every six months.