Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) are common problems for both men and women with a significant impact on peoples quality of life and daily activities.
Snoring can have significant social implications, affecting the sleep quality of a bed partner and others nearby.
However, OSA is more serious as it produces interruption of a persons sleep, resulting in poor sleep quality and subsequent daytime sleepiness, which can impair the performance of daily activities.
In addition, OSA is linked to many general health conditions including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and obesity.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea occurs during sleep which is interrupted by frequent episodes of cessation of breathing, which can each last for several seconds.
These episodes result in decreased oxygen levels, which eventually prompt the brain to restart breathing, usually with a sudden gasp or snort, and these events are often reported by a bed partner, enabling diagnosis of OSA.
Often a person will not awaken during these apnoeas, but as a consequence will be tired and unrefreshed the next day.
While you are awake, the muscles in your throat support your soft palate, tongue, walls of your throat, uvula and tonsils. In people with OSA, the muscles in the throat relax during sleep, allowing these structures to collapse inwards, so the airway becomes partially obstructed. As oxygen levels begin to drop, the brain registers the inability to breathe freely, partially awakening the sufferer, so the airway reopens. These brief awakenings can happen multiple times each hour, right throughout the night.
If you think you have OSA we can help you, but you will need a medical doctor to arrange a sleep study to determine the severity and whether dental treatment is appropriate.
There are many treatment options for OSA including weight loss, ENT surgery, and CPAP, (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) which uses a mask to apply air to maintain an open airway.
A custom made dental appliance called a Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS), holds the lower jaw and tongue slightly forward and will reduce snoring and also open the airway.
MAS treatment has a strong evidence base and is now widely accepted as a good option for snoring and mild to moderate OSA.
We are fortunate to have a dentist, Dr Geoff Pitcher, who has significant post graduate training as well as clinical and research experience in this area, available to help you.