Snoring isn’t just annoying, it’s also pretty detrimental to your oral health and wellbeing. And it could be a sign that you have a more serious underlying health concern. If you or someone you know has a case of the chronic snores, it’s really worth getting it looked at.
Let’s take a look at what causes snoring and how it affects your oral health.
What exactly is snoring?
Snoring is the hoarse or harsh sound that happens when air passes through the relaxed soft tissues in the roof of the mouth, tongue, and throat. Sometimes while you sleep, the soft tissues relax so much that they partially block your airway, especially if you’re sleeping on your back. As the air passes through your throat, the soft tissues start to vibrate, causing a snoring sound every time you breathe. The more blocked the airway becomes, the louder the sound!
Although everyone snores now and then, for some people, it can be a chronic problem, and in most cases may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea.
Dental exams often provide early signs of sleep apnea, which can itself be a sign of a more serious health condition. These conditions include heart disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.
What causes snoring?
According to Mayo Clinic, causes of snoring include the following:
- Some people are simply born with a low, thick, soft palate or large tonsils, which can narrow the airway.
- Sleeping on your back can alter the position of your airway.
- People who are overweight may have extra tissue around their throat that may narrow their airway.
- Chronic nasal congestion can obstruct the airflow when breathing.
- Alcohol or tobacco can relax the muscles in the throat causing airway obstruction.
- Not getting enough sleep can lead to the throat becoming more relaxed and the airways becoming restricted.
Other risk factors that contribute to snoring include:
- Gender: Men are significantly more likely to snore and have sleep apnea than women.
- Age: People 40 years or older tend to snore more those that are younger.
- A family history of snoring or obstructive sleep apnea.
If you feel that your snoring could be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea – a condition where you can’t breathe properly – it’s important you contact your healthcare provider immediately.
The link between snoring and bad breath
If you’ve been snoring throughout the night, you will usually wake up with worse morning breath than usual. This is because when you’re snoring, you breathe with your mouth open so are more likely to experience dry mouth. When there’s no saliva to moisten and wash out the mouth, you’re more prone to bacteria build-up, gum disease, and tooth decay.
Our teeth and gums rely solely on the nutrients in our salvia to efficiently remineralize dentin and tooth enamel as well as helping to neutralize mouth acids, so it’s important that we have a continuous flow of saliva to keep flushing away those nasty toxins and excess sugars.
When food debris and bacteria are not removed, they decompose and leave an odor behind causing that ever-so-pleasant morning breath. A lack of cleansing saliva to purify your mouth increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
If you are able to correct the reasons for your snoring that we mentioned above, this may help to reduce your bad breath and other snoring effects. We recommend that those of you who are seeking treatment for snoring should consult your dentist or doctor.
How Can Your Dentist Help You?
If you (or your partner!) have noticed that your snoring has become a consistent problem at night, we recommended that you mention it to your dentist so they can recommend treatments. Something they may recommend will be a sleep study where experts will monitor your sleep patterns and inform you of the reason for your snoring.
Other remedies your dentist may suggest are procedures to remove excess tissues from your mouth to clear your airway.
Other ways to reduce snoring include:
- Try and sleep on your side rather than your back
- Limit or avoid alcohol before bed
- Use nasal strips or external nasal dilator
- Limit or avoid smoking
Besides being annoying, snoring can seriously disrupt your sleep and that of your partner. And if you have read our article, “Why Your Body Loves Sleep,” you will understand why it’s absolutely vital that you’re getting adequate sleep.
Seeing your doctor or dentist can help you figure out why you’re snoring and recommend treatments that help you sleep more soundly at night.
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