Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder that involves interruptions in a person’s breathing when they are sleeping.
Essentially, what occurs during this condition is that the brain does not send the right signals to tell you to breathe when you are asleep. In other words, the brain ‘forgets’ to make you breathe.
Snoring and sleep apnoea
When we talk about sleep apnoea, many people assume we are referring to snoring. This is because snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnoea. Not all people who snore have sleep apnoea, however, most people with sleep apnoea snore. It is important to realise that sleep apnoea snoring is different from regular snoring.
Regular snoring partially blocks your airway but does not cause any significant breathing problems whereas sleep apnoea snoring is the result of a partial or full obstruction of the airway. These obstructions severely restrict or stop your breathing, starving your body of oxygen,
The dentist can help
If you or your partner suffer from sleep apnoea, it may come as a surprise that your dentist can be of great help when it comes to treating this condition. Your dentist may suggest wearing an oral appliance to sleep which can help ease the symptoms of your sleep apnoea. The most commonly used appliance is a mandibular appliance. These look like mouthguards and push the lower jaw forward. In this position, the muscles which collapse during apnoeas tighten, stopping them from falling down. Over time, oral appliances can make the airway stronger and more rigid so that they can reduce or eliminate apnoeas.
To determine whether or not you will be a good candidate for this treatment, your dentist will assess your teeth, mouth, and temporomandibular joints. If you are deemed suitable, your dentist will create models of your teeth which will be used to create an appliance to fit your mouth.
Your dentist will work closely with you to make sure that your oral appliance is working and improving your symptoms.
If you believe that you and/or your partner is suffering from sleep apnoea, give your dentist a call!