There are many potential causes of snoring, but many people snore in large part because of their anatomy. If certain anatomical features cause your snoring, it can impact what treatment will deliver the best results for you.
Here are some causes of snoring to consider, but it takes professional evaluation to determine what is likely causing your snoring. At the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center, our Omaha sleep dentists and other sleep professionals can help you identify the source of snoring and recommend treatments that will give you the best possible results.
#1 Deviated Septum
The septum is the divider in your nose that separates the nostrils. It should run straight down the middle of your nose, but if it curves, jogs to the side, or otherwise varies from this central course, it can create narrow areas in your nose. These constricted areas can interfere with your breathing during the day, and lead to snoring at night.
People with a deviated septum might see good results with nasal dilator strips. However, surgery might be the best treatment for this cause of snoring.
#2 Enlarged Turbinates
Turbinates are small, bony structures in your nose. They help warm and humidify the air you breathe, as well as improve your sense of smell. Enlarged turbinates can constrict airflow through your nose, causing snoring.
Temporarily enlarged turbinates caused by colds or allergies can be addressed with anti-inflammatory medications. People with enlarged turbinates might benefit from nasal dilator strips. If you have overgrown turbinates, surgery might give you the best long-term results.
#3 Narrow Nostrils
In addition to problems with the septum and turbinates, sometimes people have narrow nostrils caused by the shape of their nose.
If narrow nostrils are only a problem during sleep, you might see good results with nasal dilator strips. If you experience poor breathing during the day because of your nostrils, surgery can expand your nostrils so you can breathe more easily.
#4 Large Tonsils
Tonsils are the structures on either side of the back of the mouth, narrowing the entrance to the throat. They help the body by trapping bacteria and viruses so they don’t enter the throat. The tonsils also serve as a sort of barracks for white blood cells, which destroy germs. Large tonsils can partially obstruct the airway.
Tonsils can enlarge temporarily in response to illness. Medication can address this swelling, which will recede naturally when you get better. However, some people develop permanently enlarged tonsils, which might need to be removed to address snoring.
The uvula is the fleshy structure that dangles at the back of the mouth. We recently talked in detail about the uvula’s role in snoring, as well as possible treatments.
#6 Soft Palate
The palate is the roof of your mouth. The front of the palate is the hard palate, and the back is the soft palate, which doesn’t have bony support. If your soft palate is too large, it can restrict your airway in the back of your throat, causing turbulent airflow. This turbulence vibrates the soft palate, creating snoring.
Although there are some oral appliances that address the vibration of the soft palate, it might be better to address the soft palate surgically. This might involve trimming the soft palate, causing minor injury to the soft palate so that scar tissue makes it more rigid, or inserting rods into the palate to make it more rigid.
#7 Fat or Sagging Tongue
The tongue performs many roles in the body, facilitating speech, eating, taste, and the development of the teeth and jaws. However, the tongue can also interfere with breathing. The tongue can develop fat deposits like any other part of the body, and if it does, it can narrow your airway. The tongue can also narrow the airway as it sags during sleep.
In fact, the tongue is the first anatomical structure we’ve discussed that has the potential to completely close your airway, leading to obstructive sleep apnea.
Losing weight can reduce fat deposits on the tongue, and exercise can help tone the tongue. However, oral appliance therapy is often the best way to address tongue problems. Mandibular advancement devices (MAD) move the jaw forward to pull the tongue out of the way of the airway, and tongue retaining devices (TRD) can also help keep the airway clear. Less frequently, surgery can reduce the size of the tongue.
#8 Neck Fat
Weight gain can lead to fat deposits in the neck region. These can narrow the airway, making it harder to breathe. The pressure of these fat deposits worsens when you lie down to sleep. This can restrict your airway, causing snoring, or close your airway completely, causing sleep apnea.
Weight loss and exercise can reduce the impact of neck fat, and a MAD can help your jaw support your airway, keeping it open to reduce or eliminate snoring and sleep apnea.
#9 Receding Jaw
Your jaw is the main bony support for your tongue and throat. If it’s too far back, it will make your airway narrow and more likely to collapse during sleep, leading to snoring and sleep apnea.
Oral appliance therapy using a MAD can position your jaw so it provides better support to your airway. However, it’s also possible to use surgery to advance the jaw. This procedure is invasive, expensive, and requires a long recovery time, but in some cases, it might be the best treatment for a receding jaw.
#10 Narrow Airway
Some people have a narrow airway that contributes to snoring and sleep apnea. This may be secondary to underdeveloped jaws, or it may be related to other causes.
Often, a MAD can help keep your airway open, but in some cases, an Omaha sleep dentist might recommend an oral appliance that can stimulate the growth of your jaw and airway.
Effective Snoring Treatment in Omaha
At the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center in Omaha, we understand that there are many potential causes of snoring. We can help you understand the true cause of your snoring so you can find an effective solution.
Please call (402) 493-4175 or use our online form today to request an appointment at our office in Omaha’s North Park.