If you or your partner snores excessively, then your peace and quiet might not be the only thing affected. Snoring can restrict the flow of air to your brain and body, and in some cases, it’s an indication of a more serious sleep disorder, known as obstructive sleep apnea. Like snoring, the disorder involves oral and throat tissues obstructing the airway, meaning you have to work harder for a limited supply of air while you sleep.
What is obstructive sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, occurs when your airway is blocked by over-relaxed, over-sized, and/or abnormally-shaped oral tissues while you sleep. The obstruction causes you to stop breathing, which sends your brain into a panic as it wakes your body to start breathing again. Usually, this cycle repeats itself hundreds of times a night, making it impossible for you to enter the deeper (REM) stages of sleep.
Why do OSA patients snore?
As your airway becomes obstructed by oral tissues, the path shrinks, forcing your breath through a smaller area. This increases the air pressure in your airway and forces your lungs to work harder to breathe, and snoring is the sound of labored breathing and vibrating muscles and tissues in your throat. Because of the nature of obstructive sleep apnea, patients who experience it snore increasingly louder as the airway closes.
How is obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed?
Most cases of sleep apnea are officially diagnosed with a sleep study, in collaboration with sleep study experts, your general physician, and your sleep dentist. Before undergoing a sleep study, however, we can gauge the likelihood of sleep apnea with a comprehensive examination at our dental office.