Snoring / Sleep Apnoea

Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) are breathing disorders, which occur during sleep, due to the narrowing or total closure of the body’s airways.

Snoring is a noise created by the partial blocking of the airway. When you fall asleep your muscles relax, including those that control the tongue and throat. The soft tissue at the back of your throat can sag, narrowing the airway. Incoming air then makes the tissue at the rear roof of the mouth (the soft palate), the flap of skin hanging from the palate (uvula) and the throat vibrate – a sound we know as snoring.

Snoring is often no greater problem than the noise itself. However, loud snoring may be a sign of a more serious problem – OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnoea).

OSA is when the airway becomes completely blocked and breathing stops. The brain then detects the lack of oxygen and prompts a momentary arousal to draw breath. Although OSA sufferers may experience hundreds of apnoea episodes per night, they are unlikely to remember any of them. In fact, if the sufferer lives alone or sleeps separately they may not be aware of their condition, even after many years.

OSA has become one of the most serious chronic conditions of the 21st century, with OSA linked with early morbidity, due to an increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease, stroke and many other serious conditions.

Sound Sleeper InfographicImportantly, OSA is no longer just seen in overweight older men, with children and young females also diagnosed with the condition. 

The most important step in treating OSA is assessment by a sleep physician. At Barry Smith Dental we work with some of Sydney’s leading sleep physicians to ensure that your sleep disorder is fully assessed and the correct treatment is prescribed for you.

It is the sleep physician that will decide the most appropriate treatment for your condition. In many cases this may be the use of a CPAP appliance. For mild to moderate cases, however, it is increasingly the construction of a sleep appliance by a properly trained dentist that is the treatment of choice. This is for a number of reasons, the main one being the difficulty for some patients to use the bulky CPAP appliance.

It is important that all OSA patients, and indeed all snoring patients, are assessed by a sleep physician before treatment is provided. DO NOT allow a dentist to treat you with a sleep appliance until you have been assessed by a professional.

Dr Smith has been treating OSA patients for a number of years, and has had experience in applying a wide range of products in that time (there are at least 95 on the market). We are able to prescribe the most appropriate appliance for your particular case. The majority of the time we use the Somnomed appliance as this is the most reliable.

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