Snoring & Sleep Apnea Treatment
Snoring can be a sign of a serious medical condition called obstructive sleep apnea.
Every night 1 in 4 Americans snores while sleeping, making it a widespread problem that affects sleep and quality of life for millions of snorers and their bed partners alike.
Our Boston Center for Oral Health dentist Dr. Carmine Morreale is dedicated to serving the needs of patients with sleep disorders that can be treated with custom-made oral appliances and snoring mouthpieces. A graduate of the Dental Sleep Medicine residency at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, Dr. Morreale is also an Associate Professor of Prosthodontics at Tufts School of Dental Medicine. He is committed to helping his patients sleep better and live better lives by treating the underlying causes of snoring and sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep. The term sleep apnea is derived from the Greek etymology meaning “without breath”. Breathing pauses can last anywhere from several seconds to minutes, and happen as often as 30 times or more per hour.
There are two main types of sleep apnea disorders. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when there is an obstruction of the airway and air cannot flow through the nose or mouth during sleep, even though the body is still trying to breathe. This is the more common type of sleep apnea and the type that is more easily treatable by a dentist. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send important signals to the breathing muscles during sleep.
What causes snoring & sleep apnea?
Snoring and sleep apnea are caused by an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose. This obstruction causes turbulent air flow which produces vibrations of the soft tissue. The sound generated from these vibrations is called snoring. Ongoing sleep apnea causes an imbalance between the carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in the bloodstream, as not enough carbon dioxide is exiting and not enough oxygen is entering the body. Sensing this imbalance, the brain sends a message to the body telling it to wake up to restart breathing the process.
People with sleep apnea will be partially awake as they struggle to breathe, and this is often accompanied by loud snoring or choking sensations. Because people with sleep apnea don’t always wake up completely during the episodes, they are often unaware they have a sleeping disorder and their sleep apnea can remain undiagnosed.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
Common signs of obstructive sleep apnea can include:
- Severe early morning headaches
- Excessive sleepiness in the daytime
- Irregular heartbeat
- Sore throat
- Gasping or choking sensation when waking
What does sleep apnea treatment involve?
At your first visit, Dr. Morreale will conduct tests in order to investigate, diagnose and pinpoint the cause of airway obstruction during sleep and design a suitable treatment plan. We offer many different treatment options which depend largely on the root cause of the condition and the health of the patient. As a first step, we advise our patients to halt some habits that can aggravate sleep apnea such as smoking, alcohol consumption, use of sleep aids and late-night eating.
Until recently, I had never heard of the condition called “sleep apnea” and had never known anyone with it. It was not until Dr. Carmine Morreale noted the characteristics of the condition to me that I became aware of it. I was highly skeptical that a large mouthpiece could improve my situation and my first inclination was to pass up Dr. Morreale’s suggestions for treatment. Eventually, I agreed to go forward with his suggested treatment. I have now lived with my Respire sleep apnea device for about 3 weeks and I can only call it a medical miracle. My entire body clock has returned to normal, my energy level has sharply improved, and my overall mood is much improved. In fact, I started to notice improvement after only 1 night. At this point, I cannot sleep comfortably WITHOUT my Respire device.
– Stephen S.
Read more patient testimonials >
What are my treatment options?
For many years, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks were the go-to treatment for symptoms of snoring and sleep apnea. However, many patients find these masks uncomfortable to sleep in, making them an ineffective long-term option for managing symptoms. Fortunately, there are a variety of different options available to keep a snorer’s airways open during sleep.
Boston Center for Oral Health will evaluate your symptoms and perform an examination to pinpoint the cause or causes of the airway obstruction before recommending the best course of action.
Alternative solutions to the CPAP mask include:
- Custom-made oral appliances: Dental devices can tease the lower jaw forward and prevent the tongue from blocking the main air passage during sleep. These devices are gentle, easy to wear and allow patients to avoid unwanted surgeries.
- Oral surgeries: A more permanent solution to treat snoring and sleep apnea may involve surgery that sections the lower jaw and pulls the bone holding the tongue forward slightly. This surgery has an impressive success rate and can eliminate symptoms for good.
Learn More on Our Blog
Tongue Causing Airway Ostruction? How to Treat Snoring Without CPAP >
4 Reasons to Choose a Dental Device for Snoring >
The Health Risks of Snoring & Why You Should Seek Treatment >
CPAP Alternative to Treat Snoring & Sleep Apnea in Boston >
For additional information about snoring and sleep apnea treatment at Boston Center for Oral Health, download our informational PDF here.
To learn more about the science of sleep and why sleep matters, visit the Healthy Sleep Website, maintained by the WGBH Educational Foundation and the Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine.
Not sure whether your snoring needs to be evaluated? Want to get more information before you come in for an appointment?
We would be happy to discuss your condition and your treatment options on a complimentary phone consultation. Just call our office at (617) 536-4620 and mention the phrase “snoring phone consultation.”