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Sleep Apnoea

Snoring is often connected to a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), which carries significant health risks. During sleep, narrowing of the upper airways disrupts breathing while sleeping, causing brain microarousals and reduced oxygen in the body. While not all snorers have OSA, pretty much all OSA patients snore. Seek professional evaluation if your snoring is accompanied by the symptoms of unrefreshing sleep, daytime fatigue, mood swings, diminishing concentration, headaches and generally feeling less than in optimum health.

Unfortunately, it’s a well-established fact that OSA can greatly impact one’s quality of life, and an elevated risk of other health problems. An increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and Type-2 Diabetes is well documented. Other elevated risk factors are neurocognitive decline with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease, and an increased risk of road traffic and workplace accidents together with a decline in performance at work.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is a highly prevalent sleep disorder with significant comorbidities associated with it. During sleep, the walls of the upper airway collapse and disrupt normal breathing pattern. This can lead to brain microarousals and lack of oxygenation in the body systems. Not all snorers have OSA, but mostly all apnoeics are snorers. If your snoring highlights any of the following symptoms, it may be an indication that you should seek further evaluation from a professional.

OSA can have a profound effect on one’s quality of life; interrupted sleep on an ongoing basis, can lead to increased fatigue on waking and throughout the day. this increases the risk of developing other medical conditions through an inflammatory process.

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

The most common symptom of OSA is loud snoring and daytime fatigue.  Breathing pauses that occur after falling asleep, may lead to an experience of choking, gasping or a feeling of drowning. Waking up hearing a loud snort or gasping sound is not uncommon.  Consequences of this are

  • Witnessed breathing pauses during sleep by bed partner
  • Morning headaches
  • Sore throat or dry mouth upon awakening
  • Restless sleep
  • High blood pressure
  • Frequent nocturia
  • Waking with heart racing
  • In children, poor attention span, behavioral issues or poor performance in school
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating

Dentists and Sleep Disorders

Dentists are pivotal in identifying those patients at risk of Sleep Disordered Breathing which include, Snoring, Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome and OSA.

This is an upper airway disease and dentists and their hygienists are well placed to be able to note signs and symptoms pertaining to underlying sleep disorder from their own patient base.

Patients often ask a dentist to help with snoring but these patients may be suffering with more than snoring and a dentist can screen and assess and either refer on to a sleep specialist or treat if deemed appropriate.

A dentist can also carry out a Home Sleep Apnoea Test (HSAT) to screen for an underlying problem and manage the patient appropriately depending on the reported results of the sleep test.

A trained dentist is duly qualified to provide a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) for snoring, sleep apnoea and in some cases, Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS).

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