Many people consider snoring a nocturnal disturbance that comes with age or obesity, and that nothing much can be done about it. That is not always the case. In reality your ‘ snoring problem’ may be masking a potentially serious disorder known as sleep apnoea.
Sleep apnoea refers to a sleeping disorder that causes your breathing to be obstructed – an apnoea is translated to mean “without breath”. Clinically speaking, a sleep apnoea event occurs when sufferer’s airflow is obstructed for about 10 seconds or more. That is why many sleep apnoea sufferers are known to gasp or choke for breath in the middle of sleep. Given the person is usually not conscious of his or her own sleeping behaviours, many sufferers are not aware of their conditions until avsleeping partner alerts them to their nocturnal habits.
While persistent snoring and frequent choking for air remain the more telling signs, there are some daytime symptoms that are common among sufferers. Excessive sleepiness, lack of concentration, memory loss and morning headaches are just some of them. Anyone can develop sleep apnoea, however, some physical or medical conditions may be contributing factors: Obesity, smoking, family history, allergies, medical conditions like nasal blockages, neurological conditions etc. More specifically, males over the age of 65 with a weight problem belong to the high risk group.
A 2010 report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimated that around 26% of male Australians between ages 40 – 65 have the problem. Other research shows that the majority of sufferers have not been diagnosed or received treatment. Of patients with breathing disorders, 90-96% of them suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
The most common treatment for sleep apnoea is the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy. Although CPAP provides an effective solution, not everyone can tolerate sleeping with the face mask, which serves to provide a constant stream of pressurised air to keep the patient’s airways open throughout the night.
In recent years, a dental option has been developed as a great alternative to patients with CPAP compliance issues. If you have been diagnosed with mild to moderate form of obstructive sleep apnoea, there is a good chance that a dental appliance may work for you, although your sleep physician would be the best person to determine if that is the case.
Sleep Apnoea Treatments
The Mandibular Advancement Splint/ Device (MAS/ MAD) is one of the most popular dental appliances used to treat obstructive sleep apnoea. The oral sleep device works by repositioning the mandible in such a way that prevents the tongue from obstructing the airway during sleep. The mandible is the lowest facial bone responsible for holding your teeth in place. Consisting of a set of splints – to be worn on your upper/ lower sets of teeth – the device may be finely adjusted to fit snugly in your mouth, for optimum comfort and effectiveness throughout the treatment process. Besides alleviating your symptoms in the short run, the dental device may even recondition your breathing habits to solve your snoring issue over the long term.
If a MAS or MAD has been determined as a suitable treatment option by your sleep physician, you may wish to talk to Dr Luke Cronin at Quality Dental in North Sydney. Call Quality Dental Sydney at (02) 9922 1159 or visit www.qualitydental.com.au