Snoring is often more than just noisy breathing while you sleep. In many cases, it’s a sign you have a condition called sleep apnea, where you actually stop breathing for short periods of time. It’s a relatively common condition, affecting about 26% of adults ages 30-70. While you may not be in any immediate danger beyond disturbed sleep, apnea can have serious consequences on your health if it’s not effectively treated.

At Virginia H. Ellis, DDS Dental Corp. in Orinda, California, Dr. Ellis and her team can address your snoring and other sleep-related dental issues, such as clenching and grinding your teeth (bruxism), with a night guard, also called a mouth guard or snore guard. Here’s how it works.

First, a bit about sleep apnea

There are three types of sleep apnea, but by far the most common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The muscles in the back of your throat support a variety of tissues, including your throat walls, tonsils, and tongue.

During sleep, your muscles relax. If you have sleep apnea, though, the relaxation in the back of your throat causes the tissues to collapse into your airway, blocking your ability to draw breath. As your blood oxygen drops, your brain receives a signal that there’s a problem. It responds by sending out its own signal to wake you up so you can clear your airway. 

In this moment of semi-wakefulness, you respond to the brain’s signal with a loud snort or gasp to clear the passage, then immediately fall back asleep. However, when your airway closes again, the whole cycle repeats itself.

Some people experience this cycle more than 100 times an hour, all night long. They’re unable to achieve the deep, restful sleep phases, and they wake up feeling tired and parched instead.

It’s important that you take the situation seriously and get medical help. Studies show chronic OSA can lead to a host of medical problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, and depression.

Next stop, the dentist

There are a number of ways to treat OSA, and many people seek out a sleep specialist to address the problem. But, did you know your dentist can serve as a first-line treatment source?

It’s true. Not only does Dr. Ellis offer night guards to help control nighttime grinding and clenching, she also offers snore guards to address sleep apnea.

A snore guard is an oral appliance used for mild-to-moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea. The dental team takes an impression of your teeth to create a high-quality appliance that fits your mouth perfectly. A snore guard shifts your lower jaw forward so the airway remains unblocked. 

Wearing a snore guard can lead to:

  • Better airflow
  • More restful sleep
  • Reduced snoring frequency and volume

Not only can it bring quiet to your sleeping environment, but it can help you sleep soundly and wake up refreshed.

If you’ve been told you snore loudly or hold your breath while you sleep, you may have sleep apnea. Dr. Ellis can help. Call (925) 272-2698 for a consultation, or book an appointment online with Virginia H. Ellis, DDS Dental Corp. today.