Snoring, waking unrefreshed, daytime tiredness and nodding off and are only the beginning. It’s always been considered a nuisance, a standing joke, something to have a whinge or a laugh about. BUT it’s not widely known that sleep apnoea is strongly associated with serious medical issues, including a 7 FOLD increased risk of death. Seriously.
People, especially men, with obstructive sleep apnoea are many times more likely to have:
- A heart attack or stroke
- High blood pressure
- Car accidents
- Impotence (!)
You are also more likely to feel tired during the day, have trouble concentrating, and underperform at work or school.
So what exactly is sleep apnoea?
Sleep apnoea is a condition where you literally stop breathing during sleep. It is caused by the collapse of the walls of your throat when you inhale. Levels range from mild to severe, but in severe apnoea, a person can stop breathing HUNDREDS of time during the night. This severely limits the oxygen to your brain, and to the rest of your body, hence it’s harmful effects.
Snoring or sleep apnoea in kids can influence their physical and mental development. Read about it here.
How do I know if I have it?
The only way to be sure is to have a “sleep study”, which is where you sleep for a night hooked up to some fancy equipment that monitors your sleep. (We can help you get this organised if we both feel it’s appropriate).
However there are some indicators that could suggest there is an issue:
- Do you wake up feeling tired or average or with a headache?
- Do you nod off during the day, or in front of the TV?
- Do you snore?
- Do you wake with a sore/dry throat, or frequently get up to urinate at night?
If these things sound familiar, we should investigate further.
You can download a quick questionaire which will give more insight here.
Sleep apnoea is COMMON, but not commonly diagnosed. It occurs in around 1/4 of all Australian men and 1/10 women. Unfortunately, the vast majority of sufferers remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated.
So why is a dentist interested in sleep apnoea?
The gold standard for treating obstructive sleep apnoea is a C-PAP machine. It is a mask (like Darth Vader’s) that pushes air into your nose and mouth while you sleep. They work fantastically. Their problem is they are loud and uncomfortable, and only about half of those who have one can tolerate using it.
One of the treatments available is a mouthguard that you wear when you sleep, made by a dentist so that your lower jaw is positioned slightly forward. This opens the airway and allows for better air flow.
We have extensive experience in successfully treating snoring (and mild to moderate sleep apnoea) with many types of oral appliances. We generally prefer to use the Somnomed appliance called Somnodent.
SomnoDent MAS (Mandibular Advancement Splint)
The SomnoDent MAS is a unique, sophisticated, Australian designed and manufactured oral appliance which has been the subject of numerous stringent, evidence-based studies which demonstrate it to be a safe, effective, comfortable and extremely well tolerated treatment.
We suggest a brief consultation or discussion as part of a general dental examination if you or your partner have a snoring problem.