Snoring Solutions

You may have heard someone in your household snoring, the most common symptom attributed to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a potentially fatal condition where your airway is temporarily cut off for ten seconds or more during sleep when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses or closes. Happening up to 20 times an hour, with each apnea event the brain is aroused during sleep in order to resume breathing; consequently, the sleep is extremely fragmented and of poor quality.

According to the National Institute for Health about 12 million Americans are affected by sleep apnea and an astounding 27% of all American couples sleep in separate bedrooms due to excessive snoring. Untreated sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, weight gain, heart disease, lack of energy and other medical issues. The vast majority of sleep apnea conditions remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated, despite the fact that this serious condition can have significant consequences.

While therapeutic pillows or side-sleeping positions are sometimes prescribed to alleviate snoring, there is no guarantee your head stays in one position all night during sleep. Products advertised to keep airways smooth and free from obstruction cannot prevent the cause of snoring. Surgery is also an option, but it is an invasive procedure.

According to Paul Mathew, DDS of Exceptional Dentistry in Salem, NH, there are solutions for sleep apnea sufferers as well as their bedroom partners.

"Sleep apnea occurs because the tongue and throat tissues naturally relax during sleep," says Dr. Mathew. "In circumstances where this becomes a problem, such as with excessive snoring, the only solution is to find a way to keep the airways open."

"Perhaps you have already been fitted with a CPAP [continuous positive airway pressure] device," Mathew continues, "which is 100% effective in eliminating sleep apnea. However, about 75% of all people fitted with a CPAP either gives up on using it or finds it too uncomfortable to wear, clumsy or too noisy, and the machines end up in the closet."

A CPAP machine relies on air pressure, and not just the flow of air, to accomplish its desired result, so once the CPAP mask is placed on the head it is sealed to the face, which many people find distressing. Like any piece of medical equipment, the machine also requires regular maintenance.

According to Dr. Mathew, "the most comfortable treatment for snoring is a specially designed oral appliance that is smaller than a sports mouth guard and is specially fitted to each individual."

The appliance works in three ways: it slightly opens the mouth, imperceptibly moves the jaw forward and includes an ingenious extension on the back to comfortably hold the tongue in place. Because each mouth and tongue are entirely unique, the design of each appliance, and most importantly the tongue guard, is carefully carried out in stages as the individual adapts to wearing the appliance at night. Medical insurance most often covers these procedures.

To learn more about solutions for snoring and CPAP intolerance, contact Dr. Mathew at 603-890-4004 or visit