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Snoring occurs when the structures in the throat are large and when the muscles relax enough to cause the airway to narrow and partially obstruct the flow of air. As air tries to passes through these obstructions, the throat structures vibrate causing the sound we know as snoring. Large tonsils, a long soft palate and uvula and excess fat deposits contribute to soft tissue narrowing.

Normal Breathing

When you breathe normally, air passes through the nose and past the flexible structures in the back of the throat such as the soft palate, uvula and tongue. While you are awake, muscles hold the airway open. When you fall asleep, these muscles relax but, normally, the airway stays open.


Snoring is the sound of obstructed breathing during sleep. Snoring is no longer thought of as harmless and can also be the sign of a more serious medical condition. This condition progresses from upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) to obstructive sleep apnea. (OSA)


Habitual snoring, is common and occurs in 44% of males and 28% of females (30-60) 1, has been identified as a risk factor for high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke. Although not all people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea, snoring is a cardinal symptom of obstructive sleep apnea and may be associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Snoring in some patients without apnea has been associated with significant sleep disturbance and excessive sleepiness. This condition has been referred to as Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) and is characterized by repeated nocturnal arousals without recognizable hypopneas or apneas.


Working with your Physician


Snoring is common and almost universal 2. The public have regarded it as a growing annoyance to be sleeping beside someone who snores. Snoring is one stage of a complex continuum of disease states culminating in obstructive sleep apnea. Understanding the complicated pathophysiology of obstructive sleep apnea is essential to proper treatment and underscores the necessity of dentist-physician interaction. One half of bed partners are disturbed by snoring almost every night and one third report disharmony in the relationship 3.


The consequences of undiagnosed and incompletely treated sleep apnea can be serious. In addition to an increased rate of motor vehicle accidents among the sleep apneic population, systemic hypertension has been reported in up to 50% of patients with sleep apnea. In fact, average morning blood pressure has been shown to increase with the increasing severity of obstructive sleep apnea in both obese and non-obese patients 4, 5. Dr. Merrell regularly consults with sleep physicians in order to more completely understand our role as members of the treatment team.


Merrell Clinic is pleased to participate in the treatment of a potentially life-endangering disease and we cooperate with colleagues in the medical community as part of your treatment team. 

Stop Snoring. Start Sleeping.



1. Young. New Englnd J. Med 1993 

2. Am-Ac. Sleep Disorders. Classification Sleep Disorders 2014 

3. Virkkyla Chest 2005 

4. Marshal, Grustein. J. Clin Sleep Med 2014 

5. Maeder, Rusk. Factors for Cardiovascular Dis. Vascular Health & Risk Mgt 2016

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