Snoring, Sleep Apnoea And How Your Dentist Can Help
Snoring and sleep apnoea affect many individuals and families on a daily basis. While snoring is not necessarily dangerous to one’s health, it can certainly have a significant impact on family members and is a factor in the more serious condition of sleep apnoea. Many people may not realise that trained dentists are able to work with Sleep Medicine doctors to reduce the incidence of snoring and sleep apnoea. Here at Corinna Dental we are able to help those people suffering from these conditions. However, it must be emphasised that this process is collaborative and the CDG dentists like to work as part of a multidisciplinary team that includes doctors who specialise in Sleep Medicine.
Snoring occurs when parts of the throat vibrate while you are asleep. About 40% of men and 30% of women have mild snoring on some nights. About 15% of people snore on most nights(http://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/fact-sheets-a-z/198-snoring.html). Snoring primarily occurs in middle-aged people however it is not confined to this group; even children can snore.
Snoring occurs for a variety of reasons:
- being overweight.
- the consumption of alcohol and some medications.
- sleeping on your back.
- breathing through the mouth.
- allergies, hayfever and smoking (these factors make it more difficult for air to flow in and out).
- children often snore because of large tonsils and adenoids.
Some snorers also suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) – a much more serious condition which can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. This problem affects 4% of the population in Australia. While sleeping, air flow is restricted due to the narrowing of the airways as a result of decreased pharyngeal (throat) muscle tone and displacement of the tongue. As well as the more serious health ailments associated with OSA, it can also result in poor cognitive function, mood disturbances and other issues such as social withdrawal and low libido. Managing sleep apnoea can involve a number of approaches. Initially, sufferers of OSA are encouraged to lose weight, avoid alcohol and abstain from sleeping on their back. If these steps are unsuccessful, patients will be encouraged to use a CPAP machine (Continuous Positive Airways Pressure). Unfortunately, many patients find this method difficult to tolerate and do not continue with it.
Dentists sometimes need to become involved in the treatment of OSA by fabricating and fitting oral appliances; predominantly a “mandibular advancement device” or occasionally a “tongue retainer”. The mandibular advancement device pulls the lower jaw and the tongue forward and away from the throat, hence opening the airway.
There are strict guidelines around the fitting of oral appliances by dentists in the treatment of OSA, and dentists can only be involved in providing such treatment if they have completed registered training programs affiliated with a well-recognised training institute or university program. The ADA stipulates that this training should also include collaboration with sleep physicians at a sleep laboratory. You can read more about the stance and recommendations of the Australian Dental Association here.
In Australia, dentists who manage OSA in collaboration with Sleep and Respiratory Physicians need to have successfully completed advanced training in Dental Sleep Medicine in centres endorsed by the Australian Dental Association.
How We Can Help
At Corinna Dental, two of our dentists, Dr Chris Hardwicke and Dr Geraldine Ash, have taken the advanced training necessary to assist local Sleep and Respiratory Physicians in providing treatment for people with OSA. You can read about their qualifications here.
We’ve got more information about our treatments for snoring and OSA on this page: Anti-Snoring Device.
If snoring or sleep apnoea is a problem for you or any of your household members, call us today so we can discuss some possible solutions with you.