Snoring and Sleep Apnoea

Snoring and Sleep Apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a complex sleep disorder characterised by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep. The most common type of sleep apnoea is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). OSA is caused by an obstruction of the upper airway, which is usually caused as the tongue and throat muscles relax back into the airway space while you sleep.

The main symptoms of OSA are snoring, daytime sleepiness and fatigue, pauses in breathing while asleep and waking at night with shortness of breath. Most people will have no recollection of these “awakenings” despite maybe having tens or hundreds a night!

Although 70 per cent of people with OSA are overweight or obese, other things that can cause sleep apnoea include:

  • Snoring because the throat is already partially covered, hence the snoring, and can more easily cover fully to stop you breathing.
  • A small lower jaw, that is your jaw is set back further than normal.
  • Drinking alcohol before going to bed as it relaxes you even further and can promote snoring and apnoea.
  • Sleeping on your back. It is easier for the muscles to relax back into the throat when you are on your back as opposed to when you lie on your side.

The health effects and consequences of OSA are frightening and can have a significant effect on your health. OSA increases the risk of developing:

  • High blood pressure
  • Coronary heart disease, heart attacks and stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Depression

See if you are at risk of suffering sleep apnoea

The dentists at GWH Dental can help with your sleep apnoea by creating an MAS. If you believe you may be suffering from this condition, please make an appointment to see Dr Michael Harris.

Dentists play an important role in helping to diagnose or finding the symptoms of sleep apnoea because in regards to your teeth, it is directly related to the oral cavities. However, sleep apnoea is officially diagnosed with a sleep study and managed by your GP or a sleep physician. There are surgical and non-surgical treatment options.

The non-surgical options include weight loss and lifestyle changes, oral devices and the traditional treatment – Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). A CPAP helps maintain a mild air pressure to keep the airways open so you can breathe continuously throughout the night. It looks a like an oxygen mask.

The oral device is called a Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS) and is an option for those who have mild to moderate OSA and those who can’t tolerate CPAP. A MAS is a custom-fitted and adjustable device that holds your lower jaw in a forward position to help prevent the collapse of tissues into the airway.

Children as young as 4 years old can suffer sleep apnoea. This not normal and children should not snore. Studies show the children and teens who snore are in the bottom half of their classes.


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FAQS About Snoring and Sleep Apnoea
Oral appliances are designed to be comfortable and non-intrusive. Patients may experience some initial discomfort, but most individuals adapt to wearing them relatively quickly.
Some users may experience minor side effects, such as jaw soreness, dry mouth, or changes in bite. However, these side effects are generally mild and temporary.
Yes, a sleep study (polysomnography) is essential to diagnose sleep apnoea and determine the severity of the condition. It helps guide the appropriate treatment approach, including the use of oral appliances.
While oral appliances can be highly effective, they may not cure sleep apnoea completely. Some patients may need to combine oral appliance therapy with other treatments or lifestyle changes for optimal results.
If you snore or suspect you have sleep apnoea, consult with a dental sleep medicine specialist or a sleep physician. They will evaluate your condition, conduct a sleep study if necessary, and recommend the most appropriate treatment plan, which may include the use of oral appliances.

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