Snoring and Sleep Apnea-Is there a difference?

oral-appliance-effect-on-airway

Snoring is loud breathing during sleep. Apnea is when someone intermittently stops breathing while asleep. Not all patients with sleep apnea snore, and not all snoring is related to sleep apnea, but the two conditions often go together.

In addition, some people suffer from Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome, or UARS. In this condition, the chest overworks, forcing air through a small nose or throat, and the sufferer never falls into deep, restful sleep. People with UARS may wake up feeling unrested, even after ten hours of sleep or more. Some people compensate for UARS by unconsciously tightening up the jaw and neck muscles overnight, causing all the typical symptoms of a true TMJ disorder. People with this condition don’t necessarily snore or stop breathing the way apnea sufferers do. This means that UARS may not be detected by ordinary sleep studies.

Sleep apnea prevents deep, restful sleep. As a result, people with sleep apnea often wake up with headaches and feel sleepy throughout the day. Poor sleep quality can cause many daily problems, such as dozing off at inappropriate times, memory loss, lack of energy, compromised immune system, depression, and anxiety.

Sleep apnea can also cause or aggravate a number of serious health problems including:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • elevated blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD, or heartburn)
  • fibromyalgia
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)

Treating apnea effectively makes a tremendous difference for patients’ health and quality of life.

oral-appliance-effect-on-airway

Most people with diagnosed apnea are prescribed a mechanical “CPAP” (continuous positive air pressure) device, but not everyone is successful with CPAP. As an alternative,   Dr. Pick provides snoring and sleep apnea patients with custom-fitted appliances to wear while sleeping. The appliances are small, fit entirely inside the mouth, and do not require any tubing or power. They are especially convenient for people who travel frequently, who go to remote areas without electricity, or who need to use something during the allergy season when their nose may be blocked.

Mechanical CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines require sleeping with a nose mask that is connected to an air compressor and humidifier on the nightstand. While this can be an effective treatment for many people, many others cannot tolerate these machines due to difficulties such as swallowing air, air leaking out the mouth, recurrent sinus infections, nasal obstruction, skin irritation, and nighttime movements that displace the mask. Sometimes, CPAP is actually counterproductive: some patients sleep and breathe more poorly with the pressure of the CPAP mask on their face. For these people, oral sleep appliances provide a comfortable, easy-to-use alternative.

These appliances may be used in different ways:

  • For many, wearing an oral appliance all night, every night, is all that is needed to treat obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Some use CPAP when they’re at home and use oral appliances when they travel, or when their nose is obstructed by colds or allergies.
  • For severe cases, an oral appliance can be used together with CPAP in order to allow lowering CPAP pressure to a tolerable but effective level.

Oral appliances can be used all night, every night, almost effortlessly, and oral appliance maintenance is minimal. Simply scrub the appliance with a denture toothbrush and denture toothpaste each morning, rinse it, and put it away for use the next night.  Your sleep condition will be evaluated on a yearly basis.