What is sleep apnoea? Sleep apnoea is a common condition characterized by the stopping of breathing or insufficient breathing during sleep. Many people who suffer from sleep apnoea don’t realize they have the condition and may experience interrupted sleep, fatigue and are risk of motor vehicle accidents. In more severe cases, sleep apnoea can lead to high blood pressure, the development of depression and can increase your chance of stroke and heart disease by up to 500%. Snoring is one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnoea and may often be discounted as a mere annoyance for your bed partner. However, studies show that sleep apnoea related snoring may also lead to the development of similar issues and can thicken arteries that carry blood to the brain, increasing your chance of developing vascular disease. Sleep apnoea symptoms Common sleep apnoea symptoms include: Frequent sleepiness or fatigue during the day Restless or fitful sleep Waking repeatedly throughout the night Feeling out of breath, tired, or very thirsty upon waking Tossing and turning at night Grinding your teeth at night Waking up with headaches Causes of sleep apnoea A thorough examination and proper diagnosis is important in order to treat the condition effectively. We work with a sleep physician and a sleep study is required for correct diagnosis. In most cases, a patient will have a restriction in the throat. When we sleep, all our muscles naturally relax, including the muscles in the face, neck and throat. In cases of sleep apnoea, our muscles relax too much or in a way that causes the soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. Sleep apnoea will sometimes be caused by collapse at the base of the tongue or enlarged tonsils. Sometimes a small or misaligned jaw can contribute and make symptoms worse. Sleep apnoea treatment There are several treatments possible for sleep apnoea, such as surgery by an ear nose and throat surgeon or jaw surgery by an oral maxillofacial surgeon. With CPAP a mask and air pump provide positive air way pressure to improve airflow. Another option is a mandibular advancement splint, to try and improve the position of the jaw in order to reduce the pressure on the airways. The mandibular advancement splint is custom-made and fits inside the mouth just like a mouthguard or retainer. The splint is worn whilst asleep and allows the position of the jaw to be adjusted forward in order to prevent the airway from collapsing. Many patients report the use of CPAP machines as uncomfortable and inconvenient, leading to ineffective results. The forced air pressure of CPAP and is essentially more efficacious than the splint but the compliance is often low. In cases where a trial of CPAP demonstrates poor compliance the mandibular split is an option. A mandibular advancement splint is custom-fitted so it is comfortable to wear, improving compliance, which in turn means a better outcome for some patients. The disadvantage is the advancement splint, if incorrectly applied may cause temporo-mandibular joint pain and occlusal (bite) changes over time. A prosthodontist has specialist training in both these complications Treating sleep apnoea at The Smile Pros Dental Dr Darryl Beresford and his team of Smile Pros are dedicated to helping patients achieve the very best outcome from their treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms of sleep apnoea, book a consultation with our friendly team today! Don’t forget to share this via Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn.