Don’t ignore your snore

Snoring is extremely common. In fact, roughly 50% of men, 40% of women, and 20% of children in the U.S. snore! All that snoring can range from harmless light rumbling to full-blown roars, but sometimes, the noise can also be an indicator of more serious health issues.

Why do people snore?

Snoring occurs when your airway is partially blocked while you sleep. As you breathe, the air is forced through the blockage, causing a noisy vibration. The more blocked you are, the louder the noise can be.

  • Blocked airflow while you sleep can happen for a number of reasons, including:
  • The size and shape of your neck muscles and tissue
  • Tissues in your mouth relaxing while you sleep and obstructing airflow
  • The position of your airway while you sleep (for example, snoring is more likely if you sleep on your back)
  • A deviated septum, chronic nasal congestion, or nasal polyps (small, noncancerous growths lining the nose or sinuses)
  • Lifestyle factors like obesity or excess smoking and drinking

What does it mean for my oral health?

Because snoring causes you to breathe with your mouth open, dry mouth can be a concern. This occurs when the protective saliva in your mouth dries, which can lead to a variety of oral health problems. Dry mouth increases your risk for bad breath, mouth sores and infections, tooth decay, and gum disease. Snoring can also cause you to grind your teeth, increasing your risk for headaches, chipped teeth, and jaw pain.

Correcting the source of your snoring will help resolve these issues, but you can also try:

  • Keeping a water bottle by your bed to help combat dry mouth.
  • Speaking with your dentist if you wake up often with headaches or a sore jaw. They may refer you to a specialist to evaluate.

Does snoring create any overall health risks?

Occasional or light snoring is typically nothing to worry about. However, long-term, loud snoring may be a symptom of sleep apnea, which can be a serious issue.

You should see your physician immediately if you snore often and suffer from:

  • Ongoing fatigue
  • Frequent morning headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Gasping, coughing, and choking at night

If you do have sleep apnea, your physician may recommend a sleep study to see if you need a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. This is a mask connected to a tube that gently blows pressured air through your airway. The air keeps your throat open so you can sleep soundly.

How do I stop snoring?

Because the reasons for snoring can vary, there is no one best way to stop. However, if your snoring is simply a nuisance and not a health concern, there are a few home remedies you can try:

  • Change your sleep position
  • Use a snore-reducing pillow
  • Limit drinking and quit smoking
  • Wear nasal strips to keep your passages open
  • Take cold or allergy medication to relieve nasal congestion

Don’t try every snoring quick fix that you see online. Some trends, such as mouth taping, have no benefits or can create additional health risks.