Snoring and Sleep Apnoea

DimosDental offer care and expertise, in treatment options other than CPAP.

Sleeping alone again tonight? Or wish you were?

What is Sleep Apnoea and why is it important?

Consequences of untreated snoring and sleep apnoea

The diagnosis

Treatment alternatives to CPAP

Sleep and Pain

Our expertise

 

Sleeping alone again tonight? Or wish you were?

You may be surprised to learn that many couples don’t share the same bed and it’s not because they don’t like each other! Good quality sleep is so important that this may seem the only option.

Snoring causes disrupted sleep for the bed partner and the snorer. But for the snorer, this may be a sign that they suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

If you have sleep apnoea, even mild sleep apnoea, your airway is closing off repeatedly while you sleep. When your airway closes off you can’t breathe. Your blood oxygen drops, your blood pressure rises, your heart slows down in a desperate attempt to conserve the rapidly diminishing oxygen until your blood sensors detect that you are in grave danger and partially rouse you from your sleep so that you take some breaths. As you rouse your heart races, you over breathe, your blood pressure increases even further and you drift off to sleep again only to have the same sequence repeat over and over again throughout the night.

No wonder people with sleep apnoea are at a high risk of dying from heart attack or stroke. Sleep apnoea can rob you of years, if not decades, of your life.

As many as 80% of people with sleep apnoea don’t even know they have it.

But it is easily screened for and easily managed.

Call us today and together we can put some peace back into your bedroom and add some good quality years to your life!

What is Sleep Apnoea and why is it important?

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a serious and lifelong medical condition that affects 750,00 Australians. The incidence of OSA increases as we get older and if we put on weight. It can affect your sleep, health and quality of life.

During sleep, muscles relax, including those that control the tongue and throat. The soft tissue at the back of the throat can sag, narrowing and constricting the airway. Effectively, you stop breathing.

Many people don’t get treated for snoring or sleep apnoea because they think:

  • It’s “Just” snoring (nothing serious)
  • I don’t want to have to wear a CPAP mask
  • CPAP is too noisy, uncomfortable and difficult to travel with

Many people are not aware that firstly, snoring could be a sign of underlying sleep apnoea, which is a serious health issue and secondly, that oral appliances can be used to treat snoring and sleep apnoea.

An oral appliance (or Mandibular Advancement Splint) gently holds the lower jaw forward when you sleep. This opens up the airway to allow you to breath normally and quieten down or completely stop snoring.

If you have sleep apnoea – the important thing is to be treated!

Consequences of untreated snoring and sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a serious medical condition with serious health outcomes. 80% of people with mild to moderate sleep apnoea don’t even know they have it.

With untreated sleep apnoea, not only is your sleep fragmented and of poor quality but it also has significant health consequences. The most serious damage is to the heart and blood vessels. People with untreated sleep apnoea are at risk of sudden death from heart attack or stroke. Severe sleep apnoea increases your risk of death from any cause by 3.8 times. You are 2.5 times more likely to have a motor vehicle or workplace accident.

Sleep apnoea has been associated with many common health problems including:

  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Metabolic syndrome.
  • Diabetes (Type II).
  • Weight gain and obesity.
  • Gastric reflux.
  • Glaucoma and macular degeneration.
  • Headaches.
  • Neck and jaw pain.
  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
  • Tiredness and sleepiness.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Increased irritability.

Snoring itself can have an adverse effect on the health and wellbeing of your partner and can place strain on your relationship.

The diagnosis

As you know, the only way to rule out high blood pressure is to take a measurement, well it’s the same with sleep apnoea. You cannot assume that you have or do not have sleep apnoea without a test – called a sleep study. This can be done in a Sleep Centre or at home in your own bed.

A sleep physician then makes the diagnosis and recommendations for treatment.

There are different levels of severity and increased severity means a higher risk of disease or death but all levels carry risk and in general sleep apnoea worsens with time, age and weight.

AHI (Apnoea-Hypopnoea Index) or RDI (Respiratory Disturbance Index) is the standard method of scoring and determining the level of sleep apnoea.

AHI or RDI

  • <5        Normal
  • 5-15    Mild
  • 15-30  Moderate
  • >30     Severe

Treatment alternatives to CPAP

For patients with severe sleep apnoea, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is the gold standard. But for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnoea, a carefully constructed adjustable oral appliance, which optimises the airway and supports the jaw – made by an appropriately trained dentist – can be a successful alternative.

This therapy is often referred to as Oral Appliance Therapy or Mandibular Advancement Device or Appliance.

Many different dental appliances have been developed over the years to treat sleep apnoea, but the best ones have the following features:

  • Custom made.
  • Physiological / Balanced jaw position is determined.
  • This is dependant on the training of the dentist, not the appliance.
  • Supports the jaw in a comfortable position.
  • Titratable – it can be adjusted if necessary to achieve an optimal final position that maintains the airway and manages the sleep apnoea and/or snoring.
  • Allows you to open your mouth to speak if necessary.

Takes up minimal space for the tongue which is extremely important for the control of sleep apnoea.

Your treatment should be followed up to ensure the sleep apnoea is under control:

  • This is extremely important because in rare circumstances, the sleep apnoea could actually worsen with an oral appliance.
  • Continued monitoring and measurement is essential for correct management of your sleep apnoea.

This is the standard of care with Dr Dimos. He has studied extensively in the area of Dental Sleep Medicine and the Physiology of Occlusion (Neuromuscular Dentistry).

Sleep and Pain

  • Poor quality sleep, over a prolonged period, can end up leading to an experience of chronic pain.
  • Chronic pain often results in a diminishment of the enjoyment and quality of life.
  • Chronic pain can rob you of precious life experiences. It can leave you depressed and may sometimes lead to stress within or sometimes even the breakdown of personal relationships.
  • Ruling out Sleep Breathing Disorder and understanding the close relationship between sleep, pain and the way the jaws and teeth come together is a vital component to receiving appropriate care.
  • Dr Dimos has a special interest in this area. If you are suffering from any chronic head and neck pain, please call to reserve an appointment.

Our Expertise

Chris Dimos is passionate about helping people with problems related to sleep, chronic pain and the way the jaw works in relation to the rest of the body. He understands the role that dentistry plays in the treatment and prevention of these problems. He has undergone extensive training both in Australia and overseas in these fields and we have invested in state-of-the-art technology to achieve the highest standard of assessment, diagnosis and management.