What is the difference between snoring and sleep apnea, and how can my Indianapolis dentist help?

Get better sleep with specialized dentistry services at Washington Street Dentistry

Most people know what it feels like to be sleep deprived. A person with obstructive sleep apnea, however, lives in such a state of sleep deprivation that daily life is significantly impacted. One of the major problems in getting proper treatment for sleep apnea is that many people with this condition think that snoring is their only concern. 

What causes snoring?

We snore when our airway becomes obstructed. This could be due to swelling in the nasal passages, a physical defect, or tissue in the airway that collapses when muscles relax. The sound of snoring occurs as the soft tissues of the throat vibrate when air passes over them. 

What causes sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea, which we treat in our Indianapolis dental office, is different from snoring because breathing is actually fully blocked. These pauses in breathing can occur several hundred times a night, and last 10 seconds or more, greatly impairing the quality of sleep achieved.

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Making the connection

Apneic events in which breathing stops are typically preceded by loud snoring, and typically followed by loud gasps or choking sounds. The fact that snoring is a chronic occurrence with sleep apnea leads many to believe that it is all there is to their lack of sleep.

Diagnosing and treating sleep apnea

It is possible to determine if sleep apnea is stealing your healthy sleep by undergoing a sleep study. In a comfortable, controlled environment, sleep is monitored using specialized sensors and equipment that measures brain waves. A certified sleep physician analyzes the results of the study, determining the degree of apnea involved. 

Treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea include CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, which is the forced delivery of air via a small machine and nasal mask. This constant pressure keeps the airway open. CPAP provides one solution, but the disadvantages of treatment, for many, outweigh the benefits. An alternative, offered at Washington Street Dentistry, has helped thousands of people regain their health through better sleep. Oral appliance therapy is comfortable and effective, keeping the airway open by creating optimal positioning of the jaw.

If your sleep has been affected by sleep apnea, or you suspect you may have this disorder, we can help you find a treatment solution. Contact our Indianapolis office for more information.

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