Snoring may cause more than marital problems. We’re all familiar with the sound. But even though snoring is more a nuisance than a health concern, there is the possibility that it will develop into sleep apnea – a serious disorder in which the person snoring stops breathing several times a hour while sleeping. A picture of the face which explains how snoring works.Snoring affects more than 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women and tends to worsen with age. A narrowing of the airway passage between the back of the tongue and the soft palate causes snoring. Air then passes across the soft palate causing it to vibrate, which creates the sound we know as snoring. The level of snoring can be aggravated by excess weight, alcohol intake, smoking, allergies, use of tranquilizers, and sleeping on your back. Sleep apnea occurs when the tongue falls back over the airway and blocks the flow of air. As a person tries harder to breathe, their airway becomes even tighter, until breathing stops altogether. This can happen a few times during a night’s sleep or 100 times an hour. When sleep apnea causes air intake to be reduced, oxygen levels in the body will also decrease, which can be a precursor to heart attacks, strokes and other serious conditions. The Good News Now there are dental appliances that can prevent snoring and sleep apnea. Your dentist performs a thorough examination to rule out other conditions, and then determines the best positioning of your jaw for a free flow of air, and then an appliance is custom made for you. Your dentist will then show you how to place the appliance in your mouth to keep your airway open while sleeping. The appliance will also prevent the tongue from falling back and blocking your airway.
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