Are you jolted out of a deep sleep at night by your partner’s snoring? Frequently interrupted sleep caused by snoring can not only be incredibly annoying, it can also be indicative of underlying health problems. People who snore should be evaluated to be certain that other problems such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), or other sleep related breathing problems are not the cause. OSA is associated with higher risks of cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and strokes and should not be ignored.

It is estimated that more than 80 million North Americans snore while sleeping. Snoring occurs when air flows past relaxed tissues in your throat, causing the tissues to vibrate as you breathe.

For people with narrow nasal passages, snoring can be alleviated with nasal devices or medications. Breathe-rite strips open the front part of the nose (anterior nasal valve). If this is the main or only area of narrowing, snoring may improve with use of these strips, but this is frequently not the case.

If allergies or environmental irritants such as dust, pollen or smoke are causing the problem, nasal sprays may offer some relief. Nasal saline irrigation spray is one way to clean and moisturize the nasal lining. The nasal lining also swells when it is cold and dry. Nasal saline helps to wash away irritants and moisturizes the mucosa without side effects. Other nasal sprays that may be used to improve nasal breathing include nasal steroid sprays and nasal decongestants. They can be very helpful for swelling due to minor allergies or irritation.

These measures may also be helpful for people who only snore when they have upper respiratory infections or colds, which typically cause swelling of the airway passages.

Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol close to bedtime, or sleeping on your side can help stop snoring. If these measures do not alleviate the problem, then perhaps a trip to the dentist is in order.

The dentist may recommend a dental device to address the issue. Clinical research studies have shown that oral devices can be enormously effective. One such device is the EMA® appliance. Using elastic straps to open the bite and advance the mandible, the EMA® appliance offers non-invasive treatment for snoring and sleep apnea.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends oral appliances such as EMA as a front line of treatment for snoring and sleep apnea, and in cases where CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) has not been tolerated. What people like about oral appliances is that they fit entirely inside the mouth, they are portable, they do not use electricity or make noise that would bother a sleeping partner, and they allow the wearer to change sleep positions. EMA is FDA approved for the treatment of both Obstructive Sleep Apnea and snoring. 

If snoring is a problem for you or a loved one, be sure to talk to your dentist about this issue.

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