Snoring is caused by the vibration of tissues in narrowed airways in the mouth, nose and throat. Estimates are that nearly half of people will snore at some point in their lifetime. Approximately 40 percent of men and 25 percent of women snore on a routine basis. Some of the reasons for snoring are:
- Allergies and colds
- Nasal obstruction
- Large tonsils, uvula, or excess tissue around the throat
- Tongue falling backwards while sleeping
- Lying on your back
- Being overweight
- Certain medications, tobacco, and alcohol before bed
Health Problems Associated with Snoring
Generally people who snore have disturbed sleep. Multiple studies have shown that disturbed sleep can lead to daytime sleepiness and contribute to many other health problems.
Snoring doesn’t affect just the person snoring! Studies have shown that snoring causes bed partners to have more broken sleep as well. In fact, we’ve found that many of the people seeking solutions to snoring, aren’t actually the snorers. They’re the people who have to listen to it!
Snoring can sometimes be a sign of sleep apnea, a condition in which you stop breathing multiple times at night. It is associated with significant health issues including heart disease, stroke, and even death. I think everyone who snores should be evaluated for sleep apnea. Please do not ignore the warning signs for yourself or someone you love! We have more information about sleep apnea here.
Treatment of Snoring
Since snoring is a result of narrowed airway spaces, most treatment is aimed at creating more space in those areas through various techniques.
One type of snoring can be attributed to nasal congestion or nasal spaces that are anatomically too small. Treating the nasal congestion or helping to open the nasal passages can help these people. Consider trying breathing strips first if you suspect that your snoring is coming from your nasal passages. I’ve included a link to one of the more popular nasal strip products below.
A large proportion of people who snore do so because their airway (passage from their throat down to the lungs) becomes more narrow while sleeping as the tissue in the area relaxes. One way to address this is to pull the tongue forward using what is called a mandibular advancement device (MAD). It repositions the lower jaw more forward which helps to move the tongue out of the airway.If you would like to learn how to easily fabricate and adjust a mandibular advancement device at home, learn about our premium guides here. A mandibular advancement device fabricated by your dentist is generally going to run you somewhere between $500 to $1000. Our custom fabricated appliance can either be used as a temporary / trial solution or as a long term solution. The appliance is small, comfortable, and very similar to temporary devices created by leading dentists in the sleep medicine community.
An even more economical appliance option uses suction to hold the tongue in more forward position. If you are missing a lot of back teeth or all your teeth, this is generally the only option. It works even if you do have teeth, but can be quite a bit more bulky and uncomfortable than a standard mandibular advancement device. I’ve included a link to one such product on Amazon.
There are a lot of other products out there that claim to help snoring. I’m not a big fan of chin straps or one size fits all dental appliances. If you’re going to use a dental appliance, you really need one that is going to be customized to your situation. As far as I know, the only options for a custom appliance are either seeing a dentist to have one made, or using our guides to fabricate one at home.
There have also been some promising studies involving myofunctional therapy. Myofunctional therapy seeks to create more healthy muscular patterns through repeated exercises. In many cases this is just as effective as oral appliances for both snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea, although it does require more effort on your part up front. We have information on implementing specific exercises in our premium snoring guide. If you need more professional guidance on this specific type of therapy, you’ll need to find a speech therapist or dentist who has training in this field.
The last type of treatment for snoring is surgery. Various types of surgery focus on removing excess tissue or creating better tone in the tissues so that they don’t obstruct the airway as much. If you’ve tried all the other options without success, consider having a consultation with an ear, nose, and throat surgeon to see if you’d be a good candidate for surgery.