When you breathe normally, air passes through the nose and past the flexible structures in the back of the throat such as the soft palate, uvula and tongue. Whilst you are awake, muscles hold the airway open. When you fall asleep, these muscles relax but, normally, the airway stays open.
Snoring is the vibration of respiratory structures and the resulting sound, due to obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping. In some cases the sound may be soft, but in other cases, it can be loud and unpleasant. While snoring can be benign it may be a sign, or first alarm, of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) or obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome is the most common type of sleep apnoea and is caused by obstruction of the upper airway. About 40% of people who snore have OSA in which the soft tissues in the throat, including the tongue, collapse and are sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and air flow stops.
OSA is characterized by repetitive pauses in breathing during sleep, despite the effort to breathe, and is usually associated with a reduction in blood oxygen saturation. These pauses in breathing, called apnoea’s typically last 20 to 40 seconds.
When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears and the flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp.
The individual with OSA is rarely aware of having difficulty breathing, even upon awakening. It is recognized as a problem by others witnessing the individual during episodes or is suspected because of its effects on the body (sequelae).
Common signs of OSA include unexplained daytime sleepiness, restless sleep, and loud snoring (with periods of silence followed by gasps.) Less common symptoms are morning headaches; insomnia; trouble concentrating; mood changes such as irritability, anxiety and depression; forgetfulness; increased heart rate and/or blood pressure; decreased sex drive; unexplained weight gain; increased urination and/or nocturia; frequent heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease; and heavy night sweats.
Dental Appliance Therapy is proven to be the most effective and comfortable treatment for snoring as well as for mild to moderate sleep apnoea.
Dental Appliances work by preventing the tissues at the back of the throat and the base of the tongue from collapsing back into the airway.
There are many different appliances available. They are often collectively referred to as Mandibular Advancement Splints. These appliances take the lower jaw forward bringing the tongue with it, thereby clearing the airway at the back of the throat.
There are two basic types of Appliances- non-adjustable and adjustable:
Non-adjustable anti snoring devices: These are a series of one-size-fits-all mouthpieces which move your lower jaw forward by a fixed amount. Consequently, making the ideal forward position of the jaw depends upon the skill and estimation of the dentist.
Adjustable anti-snoring devices: Fix first sentence: Fully adjustable anti-snoring devices are the most versatile of all the anti-snoring devices because they contain a jack screw assembly or some other orthodontic arrangement which allows the dentist to progressively increase the jaw protrusion over the course of several weeks.
If you or someone you know is suffering from Apnoea symptoms, then please call our clinic on 1300 32 TEETH for a consultation. We will discuss with you the best options that are available.