What Causes Snoring?

During sleep, the muscles and soft tissues in the throat and mouth relax making the airway smaller. Sometimes the tongue falls back into the throat and obstructs the airway. The decrease in the airway space increases the velocity of the incoming air while breathing. As the velocity of the air increases, soft tissues can begin to vibrate. These vibrations result in the snoring sound and damages the tissues, causing inflammation and edema which further narrows the airway.

Common causes of Snoring include:

  • Excessive flabby tissue at the throat
  • Nasal congestion from colds, allergies or deformities of cartilage within the nose.
  • Supine body position (lying face up)
  • Alcohol consumption before going to sleep

The most common cause of snoring, however, is a tongue muscle relaxing too much during sleep allowing the tongue to be sucked back into the airway with each breath.

Is Snoring harmful?

Snoring negatively affects personal relationships and our health. New research suggests that snoring can lead to several health problems, some of which are life-threatening, including:

  • Hypertension / high blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Daytime fatigue

How to Prevent Snoring

Today, over-the-counter products, lifestyle changes, surgery, and pharmacological treatments are all used to treat snoring. None of these methods, however, have had tremendous success in eliminating snoring all together.

The most effective way to keep the airway open during sleep is by holding the jaw and/or tongue in a forward position. Dental appliances are becoming the preferred solution for treating snoring and are increasingly being prescribed by physicians and managed by qualified dentists. These traditional mandibular appliances are easy to wear, convenient, and safe.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain -- and the rest of the body -- may not get enough oxygen.

The obstruction will not clear until blood oxygen levels fall low enough to trigger the brain to send a signal for a release of adrenaline to prevent suffocation. The airway obstruction is usually, but tragically not always, broken with a gasp for air and, due to the adrenaline release, an increased heart rate.