Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Snoring affects a lot of people of all ages, both male and female, and it also affects their sleep partners. If you are one of those impacted, you may have sought treatment. You may have tried the home-grown solutions of changing your sleeping position or over-the-counter nasal strips; perhaps you have sought treatment by trying orthodontic-related appliances to help open up your airways while you sleep.

If your snoring is so severe that you are having sleep problems, or if your friends or family have been concerned about your breathing while you are sleeping, you should get evaluated for sleep apnea at Kittrell Family Dentistry. Once you have been tested and diagnosed, we can work with you to solve the problem so you—and your family—can get a better night’s sleep. Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition; don’t wait to be diagnosed. Call us today!

Common Causes of Snoring

Snoring occurs when the soft and hard tissue palates vibrate because of narrow air passages. There is a flapping sound from the soft palate when air goes through these passages.  Sometimes surgery is recommended to correct it, but the sound is not always from the soft palate, so surgery success is hit or miss. Sometimes the snoring is caused by tissues in the upper airway.

There are a number of things that make people prone to snoring, including the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Allergies
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Health problems
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Obesity
  • Obstructed nasal passages – deviated septum
  • Poor muscle tone of the tongue
  • Sleep apnea
  • Sleep apnea
  • Smoking

Problematic snorers who are especially loud might even have blocked air passages. This is known as obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). For these people, the blockage is so bad the passage of air is prevented, causing them to wake up numerous times during the night. Sufferers often wake up exhausted, without knowing why. It is important for patients to be diagnosed and treated for OSAS because it can cause other serious conditions, including heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke. Patients often suffer from depression as well.

Sleep Apnea and Signs

These are the symptoms we look for in patients when we are diagnosing sleep apnea:

  1. Acid reflux, resulting in acid erosion of the teeth
  2. Crowding of the teeth
  3. Bruxing or wear of teeth
  4. Occlusion, or bite problems
  5. Asthma
  6. Hypertension
  7. Tongue indentation on the cheek
  8. Long face syndrome from mouth breathing
  9. Morning headaches
  10. Larger neck size (>17 inches for men, >16 inches for women)
  11. Fatigue during daytime
  12. Ridges alongside the tongue

We also use two diagnostic tools: the Epworth Sleepiness Questionnaire and the Friedman Tongue Position Index.


Sleep Apnea and Medical Complications

Patients with sleep apnea are at risk for the following medical complications:

  1. Bradycardia
  2. Cognitive deficit
  3. Depression/anxiety
  4. Diabetes
  5. Fibromyalgia
  6. Gastric reflux
  7. Heart failure
  8. Hypertension
  9. Lung problems
  10. Morning headaches
  11. Obesity
  12. Sexual function
  13. Strokes
  14. Vascular changes


Epworth Questionnaire

This is a screening tool that is used to evaluate how likely you are to doze off or fall asleep in the following situations, in contrast to just feeling tired. This refers to your usual way of life in recent times. Choose the most appropriate number for each situation using the scale below. Once completed, add up your total score at the bottom.

1 = never doze

2 = slight chance

3 = moderate chance

4 =  high chance



  1. Sitting and reading
  2. Watching TV
  3. Sitting, inactive, in a public place
  4. Passenger in a car for an hour without a break
  5. Lying down to rest in afternoon
  6. Sitting to talking to someone
  7. Sitting quietly after lunch without alcohol
  8. In a care while stopped for a few

What does my score mean?

Score 1 to 6: You are getting enough sleep.

Score 4 to 8: You tend to have daytime sleepiness.

Score 9 to 15: You are very sleepy and should see a doctor.

Score 16 or more: You are dangerously sleepy; seek attention immediately.


If you or your partner are suffering from severe snoring, or if you suspect sleep apnea is the culprit, call us at Kittrell Family Dentistry for a comprehensive evaluation. We can suggest treatment so you can get a good night’s sleep!