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Young woman struggles to get to sleep through man’s snoring

Pros and cons of dental appliances for sleep apnoea

We’ve all had the experience of being kept awake while someone nearby is snoring loudly. Many people treat snoring as a joke or something to be embarrassed about. But loud snoring may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), a common disorder that interrupts breathing and sleep cycles.

The fatigue that results from this regular interruption to sleep can have long-term health consequences that severely affect the snorer as well as bothering those around them. Luckily there are sleep apnoea treatments in North Sydney available for you.

What is Sleep Apnoea?

Sleep apnoea is a common disorder where you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes. They can occur more than 30 times an hour before normal breathing starts again, sometimes with a loud choking or snorting sound.

The pauses in breathing move you out of deep sleep into light sleep, which affects your sleep cycles and results in a poor quality of sleep. It is a leading cause of daytime fatigue and poor concentration. Sleep apnoea is an ongoing condition that often goes undiagnosed. Most people with sleep apnoea don’t know they have it until a family member, partner or friend notices snoring, or if an experienced Sleep Apnoea clinician such as Dr Toulmin screens for it.

Side Effects of Sleep Apnoea

Health consequences of untreated sleep apnoea can include:

  • Increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, obesity and diabetes
  • Increased likelihood of an irregular heartbeat
  • Excessive sleepiness, fatigue and difficulty concentrating during the day
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Neck and back pain
  • Reflux
  • Jaw pain, noises or difficulty opening widely
  • Clenching or grinding teeth
  • Hyperactivity or bedwetting in children
  • Increased chance of driving or work-related accidents due to above symptoms

Dental Devices for Sleep Apnoea

Treatment for sleep apnoea is done on a case by case basis, ranging from surgery, reduction of allergens, dental appliances and CPAP machines. A Mandibular Advancement Splint or oral appliance is the simplest and most comfortable option for treating mild or moderate cases of sleep apnoea. They are a custom-made mouth piece which you put in your mouth before you sleep, kind of like a mouthguard. They work by adjusting the position of your jaw to give you a wider airway, reducing the risk of obstruction.

Pros and Cons of Oral Appliances

Oral appliances are an easy and affordable solution to sleep apnoea. Dr Toulmin will begin by determining the severity of your sleep apnoea either with a combination of a consultation, questionnaire and examination then refer you onto a sleep physician for a sleep test. Sometimes a CT scan is also required. If it is determined that a Mandibular Advancement Splint is the best option for you, Dr Toulmin will take an impression of your teeth and create a custom-made mouthpiece from it. Like all other treatments, some people respond better than others. Until you have tried it, there is no way of knowing for sure how well it will work. Severe cases may need alternative treatments such as a CPAP machine or surgery.

Oral appliances should be comfortable most of the time. Some people report some initial discomfort as they get used to the feeling of it, but this should pass with continual use. Other patients report an excessive buildup of saliva or their teeth feeling tender. As long as the device is correctly fitted, these symptoms should settle.

Pros and Cons of CPAP

CPAP machines can also have a lot of benefits, and are generally better at treating more serious cases of sleep apnoea. This device will stop the problem straight away in almost all people who use it, whereas an oral appliance may not always completely stop it.

CPAP treatment can be a lot more expensive and requires the presence of a breathing machine beside your bed. A lot of people find the idea of giving their bedroom a hospital room-type look to be quite unappealing or intimidating. CPAP machines can be noisy and uncomfortable, so some people find them difficult to use long- term.

Ultimately, an experienced OSA clinician will be able to determine the best possible option for you. Our dentist at McMahons Point Dental, Dr Edwina Toulmin, has a special interest in sleep apnoea and can provide excellent services for anyone requiring sleep dentistry in North Sydney. Book now for a special OSA consult by calling (02) 9460 1661 or book online.