Talking about Snoring (Embarrassing!)

Embarrassing perhaps – but something is wrong…

Its not rocket science and you don’t need to be a healthcare professional to know that when a process, which is normally silent, starts making lots of noise – something is wrong.

What am I talking about?

Breathing while you’re asleep. Or noisy breathing while you’re asleep: we all call it snoring.

Snoring? And there you go – laughing it off:

I don’t have a problem with snoring – I’m asleep, ha-ha

Or other ways to dismiss the awkward topic.

Now, I’m no psychologist but I recognise embarrassment when I see it.

Maybe we should have this conversation a different way?

So it was lucky, when today I read an article targeted at US dentists, about listening to patients called:

“A recipe for success: have the right conversation” by Michael Cowen.

The key bits for me, if I brutally paraphrase it (and I hope he forgives me if I have torn the heart and soul out of it) were:

  • 1

    Separating the person from the problem – Helping them understand they are not the problem, but that they do have an issue that can be overcome.

  • 2

    Empathising with them – Getting to what is most important for them and how overcoming both snoring and any symptoms of untreated OSA will protect that.

  • 3

    Explaining that their reality right now can be changed. Motivating them by painting a picture of how life could be – should they try.


Snoring really isn’t funny and laughing it off doesn’t make it go away.

Embarrassing problems deserve valid help not exploitation with gadgets, that merely delay effective treatment – treatment which is widely available, NICE recommended and in the scheme of things like a pair of glasses, reasonably affordable.

And snoring may be a symptom of sleep apnoea, which is so eminently treatable and life-changing for the former snorer, such that helping patients overcome OSA with effective treatment is reward in itself.

We recently published a Position Statement. We did this because while it was clear to us – it was perhaps not clear to everyone else, what our views are on topics such as:

  • Self-diagnosis and self-treatment,
  • The trivialisation of snoring and sleep in general,
  • And patient and professional education.


Dental Sleep Practice. https://dentalsleeppractice.com/a-recipe-for-success-have-the-right-conversation/ Accessed 23rd April 2021.

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