Most people who snore come to accept it as a part of their life.  It’s ‘the way it is.’  It’s no big deal.  A lot of people snore.  People who make TV Shows and movies think it’s funny.  But it’s not funny.  It’s not funny for the snorer, the spouse or sleep mate of the snorer or their families.  Snoring can be a big problem affecting over 60% of adults directly.

Snoring can have a significant impact on relationships with many couples sleeping in separate bedrooms. Making matters even worse, snorers often think they’re getting a good night’s sleep when actually they’re not.  The often wake up still tired and listless.  They go through their day feeling in need of more sleep.  It can affect their temperament, productivity, earning potential, and overall health.  Still, they think, ‘that’s the way it is’ and do nothing about it.

Why do you snore?

You snore because, as you fall off to sleep your breathing becomes obstructed.  It becomes more difficult for air to enter and leave. For some (less than 30%) the obstruction is minor.  For the rest, it’s more serious.  There’s actually a name for the condition –  Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).  OSA occurs where the interference with breathing and airflow during sleep is significant.  OSA can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.  Ohther problems associated with excessive snoring includes poor quality of sleep, waking unrefreshed, excessive sleepiness during the day, lack of energy and problems with memory and concentration.

Over 400,000 people in Melbourne Have OSA

Are you one of them?  The only way to know for sure is to get a diagnosis by doing a sleep test (polysomnogram).  Sleep tests are painless and the results are analysed by a sleep physician.  If apnea is detected, the physician will recommend the best treatment option,.

What Are the Treatment Options for Snoring?

For those who are overweight, going on a diet can help.  Excessive weight can be a major factor to the level of snoring and whether one has apnea or not, however it’s not the only reason reason.  We see plenty of people in our clinic who are not overweight but still have a problem with snoring and OSA.

Avoiding sleeping on the side can help reduce the level of snoring and OSA, as can avoiding alcohol and caffeine prior to sleep.

Surgery used to be an option, however the results are generally not good with over 70% of people snoring again within two years.  Surgery is not recommended for snoring by the vast majority of sleep physicians in Australia and the side effects can be quite severe including chronic pain, changes to the tone of the voice, and regurgitation of food through the nose.

Many of our patients have tried “over-the counter” remedies, which can be purchased on the internet and pharmacies, and include nasal strips and plugs, pillows, sprays for the back of the throat, mouth devices etc. The overall consensus is that they don’t work, and this has been demonstrated in studies.

A CPAP machine is an effective treatment for sleep apnea, and will get rid of snoring.  It’s typically reserved for the most serious and significant cases of sleep apnea and is generally not practical to use just for snoring.

What is the Most Preferred Treatment?

The treatment acknowledged by the majority of sleep physicians, as the most preferred for those diagnosed with apnea and excessive snoring, are custom-made, adjustable mouthpieces fitted by a dentist trained in the field of dental sleep medicine.

The mouthpiece gently holds the jaw forward, thereby preventing collapse of the soft tissues at the back of the throat.

These customised professionally – fitted mouthpieces have been scientifically proven to be effective and comfortable.  Victoria University conducted a study at our clinic in which we treated 116 consecutive patients who all had problems with snoring.  The patients were treated with a customised mouthpiece fitted by one of our dentists, and the results demonstrated that 111 of the patients were satisfied with the results. This represents 96% efficacy.

A new treatment is an expiratory pressure resistance valve. These are disposable devices that stick to your nostrils. The valves force your own breathing to pressurize your airway and hold it open. These devices have not yet been as carefully studied as customised dental mouthpieces-  but are recognised as less effective.

 Beware Boil & Bite Mouth Devices

As you continue your online education on the subject of excessive snoring and sleep apnea you’ll no doubt come across one size fits all mouth devices, you can purchase online.  If you’re human, you’ll be tempted.  The patients I have seen who have purchased these devices are mostly disappointed with the lack of comfort and ineffectiveness that made it very difficult for them to use, even for the short term.

The specific physiological reasons for snoring and sleep apnea can be as unique to an individual as fingerprints.  There is no substitute for a mouthpiece that’s been professionally custom-fitted by a dentist trained in the field.

To highlight this point, the following article quotes some of the leaders in the field of dental sleep medicine: “Over-the-counter devices probably won’t help sleep apnea – cheap mouthpieces are no substitute for a doctor’s treatment” 

In Summary…

You don’t have to accept snoring as ‘the way it is.’  It doesn’t have to be and importantly, the snoring so many people put up with, may actually be a symptom of something worse – sleep apnea.

With a few simple steps you could be experiencing a quiet and refreshing sleep.

Start by getting a sleep test and a diagnosis by a sleep physician. A customised mouthpiece made by a dentist trained in dental sleep medicine may well be your best option.

Share your own ‘snoring story or experience’ .  I’ll be checking in regularly to respond.

Until then, remember, once you’ve stop snoring you’ll start living better than ever.

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