Dr Chris Talks About Sleep Apnoea
Have you had problems with snoring in your house?
Dr. Chris Hardwicke was recently interviewed about snoring and sleep apnoea by Tim Shaw on Canberra’s 2CC. The link to the recording is below: it’s a great interview, and well worth a listen, especially if your household is affected by snoring.
Here’s some of what Chris shared during the interview…
What is Sleep Apnoea and How Does Snoring Fit Into That Condition?
Obstructive sleep apnoea occurs when the airway at the back of the throat is repeatedly blocked. That blockage can either be partial or complete and snoring can be a manifestation of this. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnoea but snoring is definitely something that’s an indication of possible disease and needs to be investigated.
Who’s Prone to Sleep Apnoea?
The group most likely to be affected by sleep apnoea are
- within the age group of 45-64
- who are carrying a little bit of extra weight especially around the neck
- who drink alcohol and/or smoke
- who have a discrepancy between the upper and lower jaw
Sleep apnoea still occurs in females as well, and can occur at any age.
How Can Problematic Snoring or Sleep Apnoea be Diagnosed?
The first thing to do is to discuss the situation with your GP. Your GP is pivotal to the whole process. To confirm whether there is sleep apnoea, you can be referred to a sleep clinic and have an overnight study to record your sleep patterns and see what impact it’s having on your body and overall health.
What Treatments Are Available?
The gold standard is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airways Pressure)—a mask that’s worn over your mouth and nose at nighttime to keep the airway open. The problem with CPAP is a lot of people find it very hard to cope with wearing this appliance, which means a lot of people stop using it.
The next port of call is the mandibular advancement splint. This is an appliance that is custom made to fit over the person’s teeth to hold the jaw in a forward position. This helps open the airway and improves the air flow to the back of the throat, and ultimately to the lungs.
Why Are Dentists So Important In This Process?
Dentists are in a great position to assess a person’s airways because at almost every appointment we can see the entire mouth from the lips to the back of the throat. We often see ‘wear facets’ on the teeth, which are distinct areas of wear caused by people grinding their teeth during sleep, a condition called “nocturnal bruxism”.
If we see any signs of bruxism, we can ask them about it. If they or their partner are aware of snoring or any abnormal noises during their sleep, that can warrant further investigation. We’ll recommend that they speak to their GP and ask for a referral to the sleep clinic.
Who Can Benefit From The Mandibular Advancement Splint?
It’s important to reiterate that the gold standard for treatment of sleep apnoea is CPAP. For anyone who has severe sleep apnoea that’s the way to go.
If the person has mild to moderate sleep apnoea or snoring, they will most likely benefit from the use of a Mandibular Advancement Splint.
If someone is unable to tolerate the CPAP machine they might opt for a Splint. This doesn’t offer the same level of recovery and support as CPAP, but they can still receive some benefits as far as the treatment of the disease is concerned.
Why Is It Important For Sleep Apnoea To Be Treated?
Sleep apnoea can cause many long-term health problems, but it can also be the source of challenges in a relationship. A lot of couples have to sleep in separate bedrooms because of the snoring and other sounds caused by sleep apnoea: it happens more often that you might think.
We know it’s important to get a good night’s sleep: the benefits to every aspect of our lives, our health, our work, our relationships has been proven scientifically. When a person who has been suffering from the ill effects of sleep apnoea begins to get a better night’s sleep, they often see improvements in many facets of their lives.
- While people of any age or gender can suffer from sleep apnoea, the most common group affected are male, aged 45-64, who are overweight, drink alcohol, smoke and have discrepancies in the alignment of their top and bottom jaws
- The gold standard for treatment of sleep apnoea is the CPAP machine: however, mild to moderate cases can be treated successfully with a Mandibular Advancement Splint
- While a dentist might be able to alert you that there is a problem, your GP is the person best placed to manage your sleep apnoea
- Sleep apnoea may be treated by a multi-disciplinary team, including your GP, sleep medicine specialists and dentists who have been trained in provision of Mandibular Advancement Splints.
- When sleep apnoea is successfully treated, people often notice improvements in their productivity, concentration, and relationships as well as experiencing long-term health benefits
- If you think you or someone you love is experiencing sleep apnoea, please seek help.
Information About Mandibular Advancement Splints And Somnomed
At Corinna Dental, Dr. Chris Hardwicke holds post-graduate qualifications in Dental Sleep Medicine and are both very experienced with the provision of Somnomed appliances. The practice is a platinum Somnomed provider.
Interview Recording on 2CC
Click through to listen to the interview with Tim Shaw on 2CC (5 minutes, 32 seconds). [Update: Unfortunately, this content is no longer available on the 2CC website]