There is a significant amount of misinformation on the Internet. Much of the confusion is created without malevolence, but the way information is reported can frequently be confusing. I mention this problem because I am currently studying information about sleep appliances and treatment techniques to help the spouses of snorers maintain their sanity.

Airway, Snoring, and the Influence of Breathing

There is no doubt that patency of the airway is a highly desirable goal, and the future of dentistry will be intimately entwined in the accommodation of an unperturbed exchange of air from atmosphere to lung.

The muscle tonus that keeps us snore-free during waking hours rests along with us during our sleep. The problem is that the muscles of the pharynx fall down into the air exchange highway and disrupt the exchange of life-giving gases necessary to keep us non-moribund.

There are different kinds and different volumes of snoring. An occasional nocturnal whimper is not a concern but sustained, high-volume, “wake-the-dead” snoring merits attention. If you hear your spouse stop breathing (and you prefer that this not be a permanent state), I would suggest a conversation with your physician or dentist.

Most health professionals today are conversant in this arena. If they are not comfortable in diagnosing these conditions, they should be able to steer you toward a capable practitioner.

In the not-too-distant past, sleep studies involved overnight stays in rooms where the would-be sleeper was wire-tethered to a machine that made sleep less than possible. Today these studies can be adequately performed in the comfort of your own bed.

In addition, the CPAP machine is not the only treatment act in town. Effective treatment solutions range beyond CPAP through oral devices to biofeedback techniques.

The literature on snoring does not need an addition from me. Snoring is a symptom, not a disease. The potential ramifications of snoring can be serious, and I do encourage that they be given respect.

The reason my literature review prompted this epistle is that many of the studies I reviewed to other conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, ADD, and autism — the list is ever-expanding.

What is important to note as you read Internet science is that correlation and causation are two completely different entities that too frequently are assumed to be the same.

My advice is to read as much as you can but maintain a discerning and critical eye. Don’t fall prey to the misconception that “expert” opinion and truth are one and the same. There is more that we don’t know about medicine than we do know. Use your reading as a source of questions that you should feel free to discuss with your health team. Ask questions, evaluate answers, and take action. Keep yourself healthy: You deserve the benefits now and in the future.

Dr Adams of Adams Dental

About the author

Dr. Allison M. Adams, recognized as one of the Top Dentists in New Jersey for the past 13 years by New Jersey Monthly Magazine, was born and raised in Madison, New Jersey, and is proud to deliver comprehensive dental care to her friends and neighbors. She completed her undergraduate studies in 1985 at the College of St. Elizabeth and went on to study dentistry at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Dental School, graduating in 1991. Over the past 25 years, she has traveled the country and spent thousands of hours attending continuing education courses in order to stay current in advances in the field. She has completed comprehensive post-graduate studies in orthodontics and implantology.