A good night's sleep: your dentist can help
Getting a good night’s sleep is so important to our overall physical and mental health. Yet so many Australians suffer from consistent, poor quality sleep, the consequences of which can permeate into every aspect of our lives, from the decisions we make at work, to the quality of our intimate relationship, physical symptoms such as cold sores and susceptibility to cold and flu.
Sleep deprivation is a highly effective form of torture – something any new parent can attest to!
Your poor quality sleep can affect the people who live with you too. If your breathing patterns at night are loud or excessive, this can affect your partner’s quality of sleep and cause them to seek relief sleeping separately from you.
If you consistently experience poor quality sleep, waking up throughout the night, suffering from insomnia or having trouble falling asleep, it’s time to seek relief. Your dentist can help.
What is sleep apnoea?
The quality of your breathing affects your sleep. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
(OSA) is a form of dysfunctional breathing. Sleep apnoea occurs when the airway is partially or fully blocked when sleeping, typically because the tissues and muscles in the upper airway collapse and narrow your air passage.
This air blockage can cause the brain to “wake” the body with choking or gasping for air in order to help you get necessary oxygen.
Sleep apnoea can cause or contribute to a variety of far-reaching health conditions, including increasing your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and depression.
Treatments for sleep apnoea
The first step to treating sleep apnoea is to see your dentist who may refer you onto a sleep clinic for further diagnosis.
Dental treatments for sleep apnoea include a specially-designed oral appliance, similar to a mouth guard, to wear at night when you’re sleeping. (There’s no need to wear it during the day.)
These are also called Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS), Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD) or Mandibular Repositioning Appliances (MRA).
These oral appliances treat mild or moderate obstructive sleep apnoea as well as snoring by pushing your lower jaw forwards. With your lower jaw forward, this opens up your airway more, minimising the likelihood of snoring or obstructed breathing.
As with all treatments, some people respond better than others. These appliances work best if you have mild or moderate sleep apnoea, if your sleep apnoea improves when you lie on your side rather than your back, and if you are not overweight.
In case of severe sleep apnoea, you may need a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) portable device that uses a face/nasal mask to deliver pressurised air that help to keep the palate, nose and throat tissues open. CPAP stops sleep apnoea straight away in almost all people who use it.
If fitted correctly, your CPAP should be comfortable most of the time. Because it pushes your jaw forward, some people feel discomfort initially, but this tends to get better with prolonged use. Over the long term, there may be tooth movement, changes in your bite or problems with the joint and muscles of the jaw so it’s important to have regular check-ups with your dentist to detect these problems early so they can be dealt with.
Depending on your overall health, age and lifestyle, you may be advised by your doctor to lose weight, reduce your alcohol intake or quit smoking, all of which can contribute towards sleep apnoea. If you've got questions concerning sleep apnoea, give our Winston Hills, NSW dental office a call today.