Snoring alone does not involve a serious medical disorder and may seem harmless enough on the surface, however it may cause an unhappy bedtime environment and place significant strain on relationships. The good news is that it can be easily and successfully treated with an oral appliance such as a snoring mouth guard.
Loud snoring, however, may be a sign of a more serious problem – obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) – where the airway becomes completely blocked and breathing stops. OSA sufferers may experience hundreds of apnoeas per night.
Oral appliance therapy uses a dental device fitted in the mouth to prevent the airways from collapsing during sleep. At Dr David Young & Associates we are pleased to offer our patients specially trained practitioners in the area of oral appliance therapy who can treat OSA and troublesome snoring in cooperation with a respiratory or sleep physician. Specially trained practitioners have expertise in the types of oral appliances and snoring mouth guards that will best suit your needs.
We are proud to have Dr Michelle Donegan at our practice, who has a special interest, and is well regarded, in this field. She is also the only dentist at the Woolcock Institute in Glebe, a dedicated sleep disorder clinic, attended by many sleep physicians.
How do you know you have a problem?
In adults, symptoms of OSA are:
- loud snoring
- daytime sleepiness
- fatigue and witnessed apnoeas (stopping breathing)
In children, symptoms can include:
- daytime sleepiness
- cranky and irritable disposition (especially in the afternoon)
- decrease in school performance
- developmental and growth problems
- breathing through the mouth instead of the nose
What can a dentist do?
Dentists are well placed to detect important signs of OSA. OSA often begins in childhood and dentists at our Chatswood practice have the appropriate training and expertise to screen for it. Dentists can examine your child for the anatomical signs of abnormal jaw development or malocclusion (the poor relationship of teeth and jaws) related to sleep disordered breathing. Very early detection and intervention is important to ensure that a child’s OSA does not compromise their IQ, behaviour, concentration, learning, growth, development and immune function. The optimal age for treatment is 3 to 5 years.
Specially trained dentists will work with specialists (ENT – Ear, Nose and Throat and Sleep Physicians) who will usually recommend a Sleep Study be done initially to confirm diagnosis.
What treatment can a dentist offer?
Oral appliance therapy uses a dental device fitted in the mouth to prevent the airways from collapsing during sleep. Snoring mouth guards and other oral appliances attempt to dilate or open the airway by altering the position of the lower jaw and holding it forward.
Oral devices look similar to orthodontic retainers and are very discreet (unlike the CPAP – Continuous Positive Airway Pressure – mask). They are safe, painless and effective, small, light and extremely portable. Because it is custom made, it is very comfortable, easy to wear and it is possible to speak, yawn or drink whilst wearing the appliance. It is not surprising that oral devices have a very high rate of compliance and 95% of patients preferred properly designed, made and maintained oral devices over the CPAP mask.
Why should I do anything about it?
The human body requires a certain amount of quality sleep each night to function effectively. The average amount of quality sleep a person needs is 7.7 hours.
Teenagers need almost 9 hours but few get it! Quality sleep enhances mood, concentration, reduces the effects of stress and optimises the immune system. Essential hormones for muscle growth and recovery are also released during sleep.
OSA is a serious condition that has been linked to excessive tiredness, depression, reduced resistance to infection, increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.