The truth about Sleep Apnoea   

Dentists can treat sleep apnoea that is not severe. In fact, studies have shown that oral dental appliances are effective, safe and simple treatment options for suffers from mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnoea. Our Penrith dentists here at Tindale Dental Centre have expertise and training in dental sleep solutions. We can provide the advice, guidance to find you a suitable treatment option.

There are two common types of Sleep Apnoea:

1/ Central Sleep Apnoea (CSA): occurs when the patient’s brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, which often result in longer lasting and more frequent apnoea’s (breathing pauses).

2/ Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA): is the more common Sleep Apnoea type and is caused by the relaxation of the muscles (such as the soft palate and tongue) while we sleep. This relaxation of the muscles can cause the jaw to slide back over the airway, restricting it.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

As mentioned above OSA is the most common form of Sleep Apnoea and can have some of the following symptoms; snoring, waking up during sleep gasping or choking for air, restless nights, difficulty getting to sleep (insomnia), tooth grinding (at night), daytime tiredness, lack of focus. OSA can lead to higher risks of heart issues (as OSA causes heart stress due to decreased oxygen levels), stroke, high blood pressure and even Type-II Diabetes.

Dentist involvement in Sleep Apnoea treatment:

Dentists became involved in sleep apnoea treatment as a result of the lack of success of other OSA devices. CPAP is a widely used OSA device that can be effective, however, some 40% of sufferers didn’t find relief for their sleep problems. A CPAP device requires an air-tight mask to be worn during the night and the mask is attached to a machine near the bed. During the night the machine pumps a constant flow of oxygen into the mask. The positive air pressure caused by the mask helps the airways to stay open, allowing the sufferer to breathe freely. While CPAP treatment is effective, some people cannot find an air-tight fit for the mask. Lack of an airtight fit can make the problems caused by OSA worse. The hum of the machine can also interfere with sleep in individuals that require silence in order to sleep. The mask and machine are bulky and can be quite intrusive and impractical.

Dentists with a keen interest in obstructive sleep apnoea have devised oral devices to help patients. These oral devices are small and fit snugly into your mouth, they don’t require a mask, nor a machine and have been proven effective treatment options for mild to moderate OSA sufferers.

Oral Devices

These devices are called Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS) or Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD) or Mandibular Repositioning Appliances (MRA). They look a bit like a mouth guard. At night, before you go to bed, you put it in your mouth. There is no need to wear it during the day. They work by pushing your lower jaw forward so your airway will open up more and there will be less of a risk that it will vibrate (snore) or obstruct.

How well do they work?

As with all treatments, some people respond better than others. The oral appliance will work best if you have mild to moderate sleep apnoea if your sleep apnoea is a lot better when you lie on your side than when you lie on your back and if you are not overweight. If you have central sleep apnoea (less common than obstructive sleep apnoea), then oral appliances will probably not help. But until you have tried it, no one can say for sure how well it will work for you.

Seeing your dentist

A custom fitted oral appliance has a higher rate of success in treating OSA than similar devices that can be acquired from a pharmacy. An incorrect design of poorly fitted oral device will do little to improve your sleep and could make it worse. Dentists understand how your oral device should be designed and fitted to your specific needs. The oral device that is tailor-made to your mouth, is an advance in personalised medicine for sleep apnoea treatment. A custom fitted appliance allows the device to conform to the particular shape of your mouth. Your device will be more effective and more comfortable, helping you to comply with your sleep treatment.

Please contact Tindale Dental Centre on 4722 6115 or request an appointment online to discuss any queries you may have regarding sleep apnoea.