Dental Topics



Breathing during sleep accompanied by hoarse or harsh sounds, caused by vibration of the roof of the mouth (soft palate).

Alternative Names

Loud breathing during sleep; Increased upper airway resistance syndrome


Snorers are often not aware that they snore. Snoring is usually normal and not an indication of an underlying disorder.

Rarely, however, snoring can be an indication of a serious sleep disorder (sleep apnea). People who snore and have quiet periods lasting more than 10 seconds have some degree of sleep apnea and are at risk for chronic hypoxia (a condition where there is an insufficient blood oxygen level).

Common Causes

  • No known cause (most common)
  • Too much alcohol or sedation at bedtime
  • Chronic nasal congestion
  • Obstruction caused by enlarged adenoids and tonsils
  • Sleep apnea

Home Care

Weight loss can sometimes greatly reduce snoring. If snoring is a result of too much alcohol or sedation at bedtime, then reduce consumption or cut it out altogether. Avoid sleeping flat on the back; sleep on the side if possible.

Call your health care provider if

  • There is excessive daytime somnolence.
  • Episodes of no breathing (apnea) accompany snoring.

What to expect at our office

The medical history will be obtained and a physical examination performed.

Medical history questions documenting snoring in detail may include:


  • Is it loud?
  • Does it occur when the person is in any position?
  • Does it occur only when they are in a particular position?
  • Is the snoring irregular?
  • Can the snoring be heard by the person who snores (that is, does the sound of their snoring cause them to wake up)?

Time pattern

  • Does it occur every night?
  • How often does snoring occur?
  • Is snoring persistent during the night?
  • Does the person snore 1 or 2 times per minute during snoring episodes?


  • What other symptoms are also present?
  • Is there a period of breath holding?
  • Are there episodes of not breathing?
  • Does the person have headaches?
  • Does the person have difficulty sleeping

The physical examination may include an investigation into sleep patterns. Referral to a sleep specialist (for sleep studies) may be needed.

Treatment includes

  • Weight loss
  • Avoid Alcohol
  • Use of Nasal Dilator strips (e.g., Breathe-rite strips)
  • Dental appliances to prevent tongue from falling back
  • Surgical correction of nasal obstruction (e.g., correction of deviated septum)
  • Palatoplasty – stiffening of the palate using surgery or injection
  • Use CPAP mask (devise which you wear while sleeping on the nose to decrease snoring and sleep apnea)

Your physician may prescribe one or more treatment options.

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