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27 February 2014

Snoring Treatments

During sleep, snoring refers to the sound produced upon inhalation by vibrating parts of the upper airway, including the tongue, pharyngeal walls, uvula, soft palate, and tonsillar pillars. Snoring happens when air can’t move freely through the nose and mouth during sleep. A narrow airway gets in the way of smooth breathing and creates the familiar snoring sound. The narrowing of the airway can result from a number of causes ranging from poor sleeping posture to some individuals having certain abnormalities of the soft tissues inside their throats. People who often snore may have too much throat and nasal tissue that is more prone to vibrate. The position of the tongue can also get in the way of smooth breathing while asleep.

Almost everyone snores occasionally. However, if snoring happens too frequently, it may be a symptom of some medical condition that may need to be looked into by a medical professional. How you snore may indicate the cause of why you snore and what you can do about it. Closed-mouth snoring may be a sign of a tongue problem while open-mouth snoring could relate to throat tissues. Snoring when sleeping on your back is probably normal and can easily be remedied by making certain changes in your sleeping habits and overall lifestyle. Meanwhile, when you snore during any sleep position, it entails a more intricate treatment.

Medical cures for serious snoring problems include traditional surgical procedures like tonsillectomy, adeniodectomy, Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPP) and Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP) to increase the airway’s size by surgically taking out tissues, thereby curing abnormalities. In some cases, somnoplasty and laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) through radio frequency signals or lasers is resorted to by some doctors to remove parts of the soft palate to reduce snoring. The Pillar procedure is also effective, wherein small plastic implants are placed into the soft palate. Scar tissue grows around the implants, stiffening the soft palate, which stops vibrations that cause snoring.

In instances where snoring results from mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, some medical professionals may recommend using a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine at the bedside to keep the airway open during sleep. This device blows pressurized air into a mask that is worn over the nose or face while asleep.

For those suffering from moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea, wherein the snorer refuses or is intolerant of the CPAP machine, or would not want to consider traditional surgery just yet, oral appliance therapy may be another option. This form of snoring treatment involves the selection, custom-fitting and use of a specially designed oral appliance to help maintain an open, unobstructed airway in the throat when worn during sleep.

Dentists with training in oral appliance therapy are familiar with the various designs of appliances and can help determine which is best suited for specific needs. Basically, the devices work by repositioning the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula, stabilising the lower jaw and tongue, and/or increasing the muscle tone of the tongue. Nearly all appliances fall into one of two categories. One category includes the tongue retaining appliances which hold the tongue in a forward position using a suction bulb. When the tongue is held in this position, it serves to keep the back of the tongue from collapsing during sleep and obstructing the airway in the throat. The other category includes the mandibular repositioning appliances which reposition and maintain the lower jaw in a protruded position during sleep. The device serves to open the airway by indirectly pulling the tongue forward, stimulating activity of the muscles in the tongue and making it more rigid. The device also holds the lower jaw and other structures in a stable position to prevent the mouth from opening. Oral appliances are generally comfortable and easy to wear as well as small and portable enough to carry when travelling.

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