Snoring is more than an annoyance to one’s bed partner. There can be some real health issues associated with it. Dr. Blake Perkins of Dental Sleep Medicine of Vancouver, Washington discusses snoring in this report.
People usually snore because there is a partial blockage of their upper airway. The usual situation is that the uvula and large palate are enlarged and fall down, making the airway small. Dr. Perkins compares the situation to a sail on a sailboat where a line has come loose, and the sail flaps in the breeze. A person who is asleep is relaxed, and the tissue in the back of the throat is relaxed. It can vibrate and cause the snoring sound.
Dr. Perkins explains that snoring is not always dangerous nor always a sure sign of sleep apnea. However, there is a great percentage of people who snore at night who have an underlying health condition that should be treated. Untreated sleep disorder breathing can have serious effects on a patient’s overall health. There are also some societal costs that can be involved. Among the things that can be involved in sleep disorder problems are hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, and periodontal or gum disease. There can also be problems of obesity and other physical or neurological conditions.
A dentist’s approach the problem is to get a history of the patient’s snoring: How long it has been going on and whether it is affecting the patient’s bed partner or others in the house. The next step is to have the patient’s sleep tested by a physician via an overnight sleep study. Once the dentist has the results of the tests, it’s possible to decide how to approach treatment of the sleep disorder.
Dr. Perkins points out that he works with physicians in the study and treatment of sleep disorders affecting his patients. It’s necessary to pursue the problem using a team approach because there is no one single approach to treating a patient. It takes the efforts of a number of people making sure that the best things are always being done for the patient.
J. Blake Perkins, DDS, is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine. He is the owner of Today's Family Dentistry of Vancouver, Washington, and he is an expert in the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). He spoke with Sleep Better TV, providing online sleep breathing disorder video news content. Sleep Better TV is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.