Chances are, you’ve heard the unmistakable hoarse sound that happens when a person sleeps. If you guessed Snoring–you’re right. Snoring is extremely common. In fact, nearly 37 million Americans experience habitual snoring to some degree, with a greater percentage belonging to males over the age of 40. When it comes to oral health, however, many are not aware of the implications of snoring. Let’s consider the causes of snoring and its effects on the oral cavity.
When sleeping, soft muscle tissues (roof of mouth, tongue, and cheeks) relax. When these tissues relax enough to obstruct part of your airway, a vibration occurs as air flows past the tissues. The vibration produces the all-familiar snoring sound. As you may know, snoring can vary in intensity and sound. This is directly proportional to how narrow the airway becomes when the tissues relax. The more obstructed the airway, the greater the vibration. The result is snoring that is louder.
Anatomy: By design, some individuals have a narrow airway. Large tonsils and adenoids certainly affect the opening of the airway, for example. In addition, those that are considered obese often have extra fat tissue on the back of the throat, causing partial obstruction.
Congestion: Whether seasonal allergies, deviated septum, or cold congestion, the airway can easily become narrowed by mucus.
Beverages and Medications: Alcohol or medications (sedatives) can cause tissues to relax enough to cause some airway obstruction.
In addition to these common causes, pregnancy and family history are believed to play a role in snoring.
Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)
Perhaps the greatest threat to oral health as a result of snoring is dry mouth. Medically known as Xerostomia, dry mouth is the lack of flow of saliva in the oral cavity.
Saliva plays a critical role in promoting and maintaining oral health. It cleanses the inside of the mouth by washing away dead cells and bacteria from the tongue and cheeks. If not washed away, a bacterium sits and decomposes along soft tissues, including gums. Several complications arise including mouth infections, halitosis (bad breath), and gum disease.
The good news concerning snoring and oral health is that there are several options for reducing and combating the effects of snoring. Dr. Leia Porcaro at Grateful Dental is happy to discuss treatment with you. Optimal oral health (and a more restful sleep) is in your near future. Call us today!