Snoring is a condition caused by restriction of the airflow at the back of the mouth. It is associated with vibration of tissues like the soft palate which, in turn, creates the snoring noise. About 20% of couples sleep apart and by far the most common reason for this is snoring. The ratio of men to women snoring is about 2:1. There are many factors which makes us likely to snore and these include genetics, age, gender, and weight. As our body mass increases, more and more fat accumulates around the tissues of the throat, which in turn narrows the airway. Studies have shown that smoking is also a factor. Alcohol use increases our tendency to snore by causing relaxation of the muscles in our body (and around the throat) which allows the airway to collapse temporarily. Alcohol also has a direct effect on the brain which adversely affects our ability to sleep.
Body position plays a significant role in our susceptibility to snore. For example, we tend to snore more frequently when we sleep on our back. Sleeping on our side reduces the frequency of snoring. There are many treatments aimed at a reduction in snoring and these include weight-loss programs, avoidance of depressants like alcohol and certain prescription drugs, alteration of sleep posture, and surgery at the back of the mouth. One of the most predictably successful treatments is provided by dentists who have special training in this area. Dentists can provide patients who snore with oral devices (a little like a gum shield) which are worn at night-time and significantly reduce snoring frequency.
These devices are called ‘jaw repositioners’ or more accurately ‘mandibular advancement devices’. When a mandibular advancement device is worn by a patient at night-time the lower jaw is brought forward a little and the airway is kept open. This process eliminates snoring for the majority of patients and, in addition, provides a better quality of sleep by increasing the amount of air (oxygen) getting into the brain. Dr Canavan and his clinical staff have specialist training in the construction of these devices. Each device is custom made and designed to meet the highest international standards with the aid of specialised equipment like an acoustic pharyngometer and rhinometer which measures airway space in the throat and nose.
There are many different types of appliances available but this practice routinely uses devices like Somnodent (Somnomed.com) and Narval (Resmed.com) which are pictured below. If you would like more information on this topic please call our office on 01 2863040 or schedule an appointment for an assessment.