Snoring is a common problem, which affects 60% of men and 40% of women over the age of 40. Snoring can not only disturb sleep of the individual and partner but can also be a sign of a more serious medical disorder, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Both of these disorders typically come from a narrowing of the airway space due to the tongue falling back throat and soft palate.
Apnea occurs when the obstruction becomes significant enough to cause a decrease or cessation of breathing for a short period, thereby affecting blood oxygen levels. This is often followed by a gasp or large catch-up breath and arousal from sleep. The decreased level of oxygen can lead to hypertension, excessive sleepiness, headaches and increased incidence of stroke, heart disease and diabetes. Therefore OSA is a very treatable disorder that can save lives.
The initial treatment for snoring and OSA is to reduce any contributing factors such as certain medications, alcohol, sleeping on back and weight loss. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has recognized the effectiveness of treating snoring and Sleep Apnea with specialized oral appliances. These specialized oral appliances advance and open the lower jaw, thereby reducing the soft-tissue obstructions in the back of the throat. This process works similarly to when one is to give CPR they move the lower jaw forward prior to rescue breathing.