Sleep apnoea is more than just loud snoring. It’s a serious and possibly life-threatening sleep disorder, that can also have a significant impact on your teeth. Fortunately, dentists can do a great deal to help ease symptoms and provide treatment to improve a patient’s quality of life – and sleep!
What is sleep apnoea?
Sleep apnoea is when the tissue at the back of the throat briefly collapse during sleep, causing the airway to become so restricted that breathing stops momentarily. When this happens, body sensors notify the brain, which intervenes to wake us up to open the airway. There are several types of sleep apnoea which a doctor or sleep specialist can help to accurately diagnose.
What are the health implications?
Often people don’t know they have sleep apnoea. Left untreated, it is a very dangerous condition because:
- There’s an increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke and diabetes
- It’s associated with irregular heartbeats and increases the risk of heart failure
- There’s a greater risk of having a driving or work-related accident.
There are also many serious dental health implications associated with the condition – from chronic teeth grinding to severe reflux – that cause wear and tear on teeth enamel.
How can dentists help with treatment?
A CPAP machine (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is the most popular treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea. It is a breathing machine that uses air pressure to keep your airway open during sleep. However, dentists are also often consulted about using oral appliances or dental splints to help treat the condition.
Oral appliances for sleep apnoea
Oral appliances are used by some patients as an effective substitute for a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnoea. Also known as a grinding guard, night guard or sleep apnoea mouthguard, they work by moving the jaw forward to increase the size of the upper airway.
Worn at night, these devices are custom made by dentists to the specific shape of your teeth and mouth. Sleep apnoea mouth guards are also used as anti-snoring devices.
Search ineedadentist for more information about dental appliances for sleep apnoea.