Snoring & Sleep Apnoea
Snoring is common, occurring in approximately 40% of men and 30% of women. During sleep, the muscles at the back of the throat relax, making the area smaller. When you breathe in, the movement of air will cause the soft tissue to vibrate, leading to the sound we know as 'snoring'.
If you snore loudly and often, you might have a more serious disorder known as sleep apnoea, which is a form of sleep-disordered breathing. People with sleep apnoea stop breathing very often when sleeping, sometimes up to 350 times a night. According to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, most people (about 80%) with sleep apnoea do not know that they have it.
There are two main forms of sleep apnoea - obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). OSA is more common and results from the muscles at the back of your throat relaxing to such an extent that the airway closes and air can no longer pass through. In contrast, CSA is less common and is the result of neurological issues, with the brain not sending the appropriate signals to control breathing during sleep.
OSA Risk Factors
- Obesity can lead to fat deposits around your throat, causing excess pressure on your airways when you sleep
- Genetic disposition to a thicker neck or narrowed airway can also increase airway pressure
- Men are 2-3 times more likely than women to experience obstructive sleep apnoea
- Older people are also more likely to experience sleep disorders
- A family history of sleep disorders increases your risk of susceptibility
- Alcohol, tranquillisers and sedatives can contribute to excessive throat muscle relaxation
- Smoking can lead to throat inflammation, shrinking the available airway space as a result
- Other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes may increase your risk of susceptibility
- Nasal congestion, whether due to allergies or anatomical characteristics may also increase your risk level
- Loud snoring from air trying to move through the very narrow airway
- Stopping breathing and gasping for air throughout the night due to partial or complete closure of the airway
- Hypersomnia, characterised by difficulty staying awake during the day due to fatigue from poor sleep, which in turn can lead to increased irritability and difficulty paying attention
- Insomnia and finding it difficult to stay asleep
- Dry mouth and morning headaches from lack of airflow and oxygen
Whether you're experiencing mild to moderate OSA or severe OSA, you should take the condition seriously. People with OSA are more likely to get into car accidents due to their lack of sleep and difficulty focusing.
So, if you feel like you're not getting enough sleep, are waking up often during the night, or are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, get in touch with us or your medical GP to organise a sleep study so we can assess whether you're being impacted by untreated OSA.
One of the most common methods to treat OSA is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), delivered via a CPAP machine that attaches to your face via a cushioned mask. By sending a constant flow of pressurised air into your mouth and/or nose during sleep, the machine ensures that your airways do not become so small that they close and prevent you from breathing. The specific settings of the CPAP machine and the type of mask you use will be determined by the way you sleep and how you breathe during sleep.
However, some people prefer not to use CPAP machines. There are a number of reasons for this, from the feelings of discomfort or claustrophobia that can emerge from having to wear a mask while sleeping, to skin irritation from the mask, nasal congestions and nosebleeds.
Luckily, there are alternatives to continuous positive airway pressure treatment. We offer our clients the option to choose a fitted oral appliance (also referred to as a 'mandibular advancement splint') to treat OSA. The appliance sits inside your mouth while you sleep and does not have any external mask components. Instead, it is similar in look and feel to a mouthguard or retainer and can be easily inserted before sleep and taken out after. Our own dental sleep specialist, Dr Jamie Chua completed a Graduate Diploma in Dental Sleep Medicine and is qualified to treat snoring and sleep apnoea with oral appliances that are custom-made to ensure a perfect fit for every client.
Compared to a CPAP machine, mandibular advancement splints are less bulky and less likely to cause feelings of claustrophobia because they do not wrap around the face or head. They are also generally more comfortable to wear during sleep than a face mask.
Once fitted, we will monitor the improvement of the symptoms and adjust the appliance accordingly to achieve optimal comfort and performance.
Contact us to find out more information on how we can help you with your snoring and sleep apnoea problem.