Physiology Behind Snoring

Snoring in Chicago

Once merely regarded as a social nuisance, harmless to the snorer, snoring is now regarded as a Sleep Related Breathing Disorder (SBD) and a matter of medical importance, potentially giving rise to adverse health consequences. Many studies show that up to 50% of men are affected by habitual snoring and up to 30% of all women suffer from chronic snoring as well.

On inspiration, air on its way to the lungs travels by the tongue, the soft palate, the uvula, and the tonsils. When a person is awake, the muscles in the back of the throat tighten to hold these structures in place and prevent them from collapsing and vibrating in the airway. Snoring is the vibration of respiratory structures and the resulting sound, due to obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping. The structures involved are the uvula and soft palate, and the irregular airflow is caused by an oropharyngeal and/or nasopharyngeal passageway blockage, usually due to one or more of the following:

  • Throat weakness, causing the throat to close during sleep
  • Malpositioned lower jaw, often caused by tension in the muscles
  • Adipose (fat) gathering in and around the throat
  • Anatomic obstruction in the nasal passageway.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Relaxants such as alcohol or drugs relaxing pharyngeal muscles
  • Sleeping on one’s back, which may result in the tongue retruding to the back of the oropharynx
  • Enlarged tonsils

Snoring during sleep may be one sign of a more serious SBD, namely obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). People in Chicago who snore should always seek professional medical advice before relying on techniques that may mask symptoms (i.e. snoring) but not treat the underlying condition.

At ORA Oral Surgery, Sleep Disorder & Implant Studio in Chicago, one of our dual-degree oral and maxillofacial surgeons – Steven Koos D.D.S., M.D. and Brian Shah D.D.S., M.D. – will closely and thoroughly assess your condition and if appropriate, treat your snoring condition utilizing non-surgical, non-invasive modalities to eliminate your snoring and also help your loved ones get peaceful, undisturbed sleep as well. Specially made custom dental appliances, tongue stabilizing devices or mandibular advancement splints, which advance the lower jaw slightly and/or advance the tongue forward, helping to open the airway. These appliances have been proven to be effective in reducing snoring and also sleep apnea in Chicago in cases where the apnea is mild to moderate.

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