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Sleep Apnoea

Most people experience snoring during their lifetime and often it causes no significant medical problems however, there are some people that experience snoring as a symptom to a more serious condition called obstructive sleep apnoea.

People who suffer obstructive sleep apnoea almost always snore loudly and are usually tired upon waking, choke or gasp during sleep, wake up with a sore dry throat, experience a headache mostly in the mornings, have excessive daytime tiredness, poor concentration and memory deterioration. These symptoms can also lead to anxiety or depression, personality changes becoming very irritable and decrease in job performance. More alarmingly it can cause heart disease, increase blood pressure or lead to a life threatening event such as a heart attack or stroke.

Your partner or family member may often remind you of how much you kept them awake at night  with your loud snoring. All people who snore should be tested for obstructive sleep apnoea.

When you are breathing normally air is drawn through the nose and past soft tissues at the back of the throat. When you are awake airways are held open by the tone of muscles around them however, when you are asleep these soft tissues may relax or collapse too much which leads to obstruction of the airways. Because of this it can cause interruptions with your breathing throughout the night where each episode can last between 10 seconds to 2 minutes. You will often stop breathing numerous times throughout the night and not even realise! You are considered to have sleep apnoea if you have more then five partial or complete obstructions per hour of sleep.

Our dentists at Word of Mouth Dentistry can assess you for sleep apnoea and may refer you to a sleep physician which will often involve the monitoring of sleep patterns during an overnight stay. In some cases you may even be able to monitor your sleep pattern at home.

Depending on the severity it can be treated with an oral appliance that is worn at night. This appliance is custom made to fit your mouth and helps to keep the airway open by bringing the jaw forward, lifting up the soft palate or holding the tongue forward. In some cases other treatment methods may be best which include Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure which involves wearing a mask which delivers air under pressure at night through a quiet pump which gently forces the airways open during sleep, or possibly surgery.

So its time to wake up!! If you suffer from these symptoms its important to mention it to our dentists at your next appointment. Treating obstructive sleep apnoea in some cases could even save your life!


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