How to stop snoring and sleep apneas

Snoring and obstructive sleep apneas seriously alter the rest of more than 50% of the adult population, over 40 years of age, with the consequent alteration of the health and social relationships of those who suffer from this disease.

When we sleep, the tongue relaxes and clogs the airways. Sometimes this action is combined with the descent of the soft palate, which also blocks the airways. As the airway opening is reduced, the air vibrates the back of the tongue, causing snoring. Sometimes this snoring is so severe that it leads to obstructive nocturnal apneas, which can have serious health implications. In these cases, although air intake is impeded, the movement of the diaphragm muscles continues. This phenomenon causes the patient to be awakened by a loud snore and then fall asleep again. The repetition of this symptom causes sleep fragmentation, poor cellular oxygenation and fatigue the next day.

People more prone to snoring are those who suffer from an occlusion with retrusion of the jaw, since it is easier for their tongue to move backwards. People who suffer from over-occlusion, i.e. when the upper incisors practically prevent the lower incisors from being seen when the mouth is closed, also snore. This joint dysfunction can also cause mouth pain, so treatments for snoring are beneficial to avoid joint compression and headaches.

There are nocturnal apneas that can cause death. Therefore, when it is detected that the case is serious -through an apnea meter (oximeter) that is sent to the patient’s home and measures the number and intensity of apneas- an in-depth sleep analysis is indicated, and treatment will be multidisciplinary. In addition to the dentist, in these cases the otolaryngologist, endocrinologist or cardiologist will intervene.

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On the other hand, if the apneas are mild or moderate, four different treatment systems can be used. The first consists of an orthodontic appliance that moves the lower jaw forward during sleep, forcing the tongue to move forward as well. The second uses an intraoral appliance that advances the jaw and moves the tongue out of the way. The third, less commonly used, elevates the soft palate; and the fourth is an appliance that simply facilitates nasal breathing during sleep. These methods are more effective and economical than other aggressive methods such as certain surgical interventions, as well as more comfortable than the classic CPAP, the oxygen pressure machine to which many patients find it difficult to adapt. However, most of them end up getting used to the device and many cannot sleep without it.

These treatments help patients improve their sleep, resulting in increased quality of life, energy and rest because the body has not suffered interruptions in breathing.