If you or your partner suffer through bouts of loud snoring throughout the night, you have probably lost more than a few hours of sleep and may even find yourself sleeping on the sofa. While loud snoring is a nuisance, it can also point to something far more serious – obstructive sleep apnoea.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)?
Obstructive sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder characterised by a blocked airway. As the body begins to relax, the tissue at the back of the throat, the neck and tongue all become slackened. For certain people, the tissue and throat anatomy will block the airway, leading to vibrations (snoring), choking and gasping for air. Many studies show that patients experience periods of non-breathing or interrupted breathing resulting in inadequate oxygen uptake.
What Are the Signs of OSA?
Each patient is different, and some people do not notice the signs at all, especially if they do not share a room with a partner or if they do not snore loudly. Here are some of the signs to look for:
- Daytime fatigue and sleepiness
- Inability to concentrate
- Weight gain
- Sore throat
- Teeth grinding
Failure to seek appropriate treatment for OSA can result in serious oral health consequences and can even cause premature death.
- Anxiety and depression
- Heart conditions
- Auto accident risk
To accurately diagnose obstructive sleep apnoea or any other sleep disorder, we recommend an evaluation with a qualified sleep practitioner who will typically recommend an at-home or overnight clinical sleep study. A sleep study monitors oxygen levels and waking events during the night, and your sleep specialist will determine if sleep apnoea is present.
Treatment Options for OSA
Typically, the first line of treatment for OSA is treatment using a continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine and mask. A constant flow of air keeps the airway open during sleep and delivers the oxygen necessary for optimal function of the body systems.
In many cases, however, patients have a difficult time adapting to using the facemask or CPAP machine and prefer a less invasive alternative. At our Kew dental clinic, we treat OSA using oral appliance therapy, also called continuous open airway therapy (COAT).
We begin by taking impressions of the teeth and shape of the mouth. We work closely with a skilled local laboratory to create a custom nightguard designed to gently reposition the lower jaw slightly forward, moving the obstructive tissue from the back of the throat and improving airflow.
Many of our patients find that oral appliance therapy is far more convenient and easier for travel.
Do You Snore or Have OSA?
We welcome you to contact Dental On Cue to arrange a consultation to determine if an oral appliance can help you get a better night’s sleep.