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Could Your Snoring Be Related To A Bigger Issue?

Do you snore? Does your partner or child? How is your sleep? Do you wake up tired? How about your child?

Over my career as a dentist in Vancouver at WestcoastSmile Dental Studio, I have had many patients come to me for consultations on TMJ and bite problems.  It has inspired me to take further education and training.  Over the last few months I have been attending lectures, training and workshops across North America  on the subject of Sleep Dentistry and TMJ pain and dysfunction.

Is it Snoring or Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

What is OSA?

OSA is the cessation of airflow for greater than 10 seconds with continued chest and abdominal effort. Despite the sleeping person’s best efforts, air cannot get in or out of the person’s lungs. In severe OSA, this cessation of breathing can occur 20-60 times an hour and can have very serious and potentially life-threatening results. Do you want to know how it feels? Hold your breath for 10 seconds , then try 15 and then try 20 seconds.  Imagine being asleep and going through this terrible feeling.  OSA frequently goes undiagnosed because people often mistaken this serious sleep disorder for snoring.  About half of all loud snorers have some form of sleep apnea.  People with severe OSA have a life threatening problem.

Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea have similar causes. Sleep apnea occurs when  hyperplastic or inflammed swollen tissue in the upper-airway  causing a temporary airway block and causes the body to take a pause in your breathing. The blockage keeps oxygen from reaching your organs including your heart and brain. When the blood-oxygen level drops low enough, the body momentarily wakes up. It can happen so fast that you may not be aware you woke up.

Snorers who suffer from sleep apnea may make gasping, choking or snorting sounds as they try to breathe and feel drained of energy during the day.

Signs of OSA ( obstructive sleep apnea) include:

  • Snoring
  • Restless Sleep
  • Morning Headache
  • Difficulty Waking
  • Diminished ability to concentrate

NOTE:  In children one of the typical signs we see in adults “day time sleepiness” is paradoxically not seen as much in children but we tend to see hyperacticvity. Often we see parents with diagnosed children with  ADHD  also report sleep disordered breathing.  One of the signs I ask my patients to look for in their children is heavy snoring and frequent teeth grinding.

If you think you, your spouse or child may have obstructive sleep apnea, Dr. Norden at WestcoastSmileDental Studio can offer you guidance on where to go and what to do.


  • Habitual snoring has been found in an estimated 24 percent of adult women and 40 percent of adult men*.
  • Both men and women are more likely to snore as they age. Men become less likely to snore after the age of 70.
  • Alcohol, drugs, muscle relaxers and tobacco products contribute to snoring for both men and women.
  • Obese or overweight people tend to snore because there is more fat tissue in the back of their throats.
  • Pregnancy can increase a woman’s change of snoring.
  • An estimated 10 to 12 percent of children snore*.
  • Snoring appears to run in families

.*Source of data is American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine

How does sleep, snoring, nighttime teeth grinding( dental bruxism= teeth grinding during jaw contractions)  and TMJ pain come together? The science is not yet entirely clear.  What is clear is that there is a significant connection and your dentist may be the first person to see the signs.

Sleep Screening:

  1. Do you have difficulty falling asleep?
  2. How many times do you wake each evening?
  3. How many hours do you sleep each night?
  4. Do you often awaken feeling refreshed?
  5. Do you have difficulty breathing through your nose?
  6. What is your normal bedtime, ??
  7. Do you suffer memory loss?
  8. Work schedule change?
  9. Does a small amount of alcohol give you a headache?
  10. Have you ever done a sleep study?

If you are interested in learning more about sleep apnea talk to your dentist or give our office a call to set up a consultation.


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