Our featured Smile Generation dentist, Dr. James Mallory, answers a general query about snoring. He writes:

An estimated 80 million people in America snore. However, there’s a difference between someone who snores occasionally and someone who snores chronically or long-term.

A chronic snorer is someone who snores whenever they sleep. It’s reasonable to think that a person snoring is getting the most out of his or her sleep, but in actuality someone who snores regularly is usually tired after what seemed like a good night’s rest.

Snoring is caused by the vibration of the soft palate and uvula, which occurs during sleep when the airway is obstructed.

There are many things that can cause your airway to become obstructed. The most common are allergies, large tonsils, excess tissue in the throat, a deviated septum and surprisingly alcohol.

When the season changes your allergies may flare up. Sinus infections that follow can cause some people to snore. Being overweight can cause enlarged throat tissue, which narrows the airway. Deformities of the nose, as well as nose polyps can cause snoring. Drinking alcohol before bedtime cause the muscles of the throat to relax and become an obstruction.

Chronic snoring has also been linked to sleep apnea, a serious condition that causes long interruptions of sleep, high blood pressure and increase risk of heart attack and stroke.

You can ask your dentist to make you an oral appliances such as Silent Nite®. Other treatments are Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), or in extreme cases surgical intervention.

There are, however, more simple and less invasive snoring treatments such as sleeping on your side or avoiding taking sleeping pills or antihistamines at bedtime. You can also buy inexpensive nasal strips from your local pharmacy. Losing weight, although not easy, may be the key to reduce snoring as well as many other health risks.

Dr. James Mallory practices at Festival Dental Group and Orthodontics, Arrowhead Dental Group and Orthodontics, EveryKidsDentist @ Arrowhead, Canyon Modern Dentistry and Orthodontics, and EveryKidsDentist @ Canyon in Arizona. He is also a regular contributor to Arizona Health and Living Magazine.