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  • Dr Vyla Ellis

How can a dentist help you with sleep apnea and snoring?

A good night’s sleep is so important in our busy lives but it can be difficult to achieve for those suffering from sleep apnoea. This common health complaint is a risk factor for major illnesses like cardiovascular disease and stroke. For many years CPAP was the only treatment available for sleep apnoea but there is an alternative known as a dental sleep appliance or mandibular advancement splint. This same appliance is also an anti-snoring device.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious health condition where a person stops breathing for more than 10 seconds, multiple times throughout sleep. It is most prevalent in males and post menopausal women. Obesity is a risk factor and it has been linked to diabetes, high cholesterol and heart failure.

Why is it a concern?

The main concern in sleep apnea is the increased risk of the following:

  • Heart attack

  • Stroke

  • Motor vehicle accidents

  • Depression

  • Altered mood

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include the following:

  • Snoring

  • Waking unrefreshed

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness

  • Insomnia

  • Night mares

  • Sleep deprivation

  • Loud breathing or breathing trhough the mouth

  • Dry mouth in the morning

  • Fatigue

  • Morning headaches

  • Dry mouth in the morning

  • Irritability

  • Mood swings

  • Weight gain

What treatments are available?

Lifestyle changes can have a big impact on sleep apnea. These include losing weight, sleeping on the side and stopping consumption of alcohol, caffeine and tobacco.

CPAP (Continuous postivie airway pressure) is a positive airway pressure ventilaot. It continuously applies air pressure to keep the airways open and avoid an apena event.

Dental sleep appliances

What is a dental sleep appliance?

A dental sleep appliance is a small custom made device which postures the lower jaw forward during sleep. This opens up the airways to avoid sleep apnea events and stop snoring. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the peak body in the field, recognises dental sleep appliances as a frontline treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea. Dental sleep appliances are non-invasive, easily removed, quiet, non-bulky and allow free jaw movement, speaking and drinking while in use. Dental sleep appliances have become popular due to their comfort and ease of use for travelling.

For those suffering from severe sleep apnea the CPAP machine is the best treatment. Some people are unable or refuse to use the CPAP machine in which case a dental sleep appliance is a good alternative. For those people using a CPAP machine a dental sleep appliance can be a good option when travelling or at any time when electricity is unavailable.

What should I do if I have sleep apnea?

The first step is to have a sleep study done which your GP can refer you for. Once the sleep study has diagnosed sleep apnea you can look at treatment options. If you have mild to moderate sleep apnea or are just a snorer a dental sleep appliance is a good, proven treatment option. If you have severe sleep apnoea and use CPAP but aren’t coping, a dental sleep appliance is your next option.

To find out more about dental sleep appliances and see if it could be right for you call us on 87551835 and book a consultation.

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