Understanding Sleep Apnoea
Learn all you need to know about sleep apnoea and its treatment
Sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and a key component of ensuring a better quality of life. However, it is not just about getting your 8 hours of sleep; the quality of your sleep is just as important as the duration. Gentle Dental Care is a team of highly qualified dentistry professionals.
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Snoring vs sleep apnoea
While loud, frequent snoring is a symptom and indicator of sleep apnoea, it is not necessarily the same thing. Sleep apnoea results in pauses in breathing or shallow breaths whilst asleep. Breathing can actually stop for periods of time that range from a few seconds to a minute and in some cases, even longer.
What is sleep apnoea?
Sleep apnoea refers to interruptions in breathing that occur during sleep.
There are three forms of sleep apnoea:
- OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnoea)
- Central Sleep Apnoea
- Mixed Sleep Apnoea
Obstructive sleep apnoea can further be distinguished by the different types of breathing interruption.
This refers to when the muscles and soft tissues in the throat relax and collapse enough to cause a complete blockage of your airway. An apnoea is when airflow is blocked for 10 seconds or more.
This refers to a partial blockage of the airway that reduces airflow by more than 50% for 10 seconds or more.
Central sleep apnoea
Central Sleep Apnoea is a condition characterised by the brain’s failure to send the right to tell you to breathe in your sleep. It can also be encouraged by weak breathing muscles.
Mixed sleep apnoea
This is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnoea.
It is important to note that during an episode, the lack of oxygen signals to your brain to pull you out of sleep to help you restore your breathing to its regular pattern. This also means that more than likely, you will have no recollection of interrupted breathing; knowing the symptoms will help you identify sleep apnoea despite this.
The symptoms of sleep apnoea include:
- Extremely noisy snoring
- Intense daytime sleepiness
- Muted sex drive
- Mood swings and changes in behaviour
- Anxiety or depression
- Being irritable and having a short temper
- Morning headaches
How do I know if I suffer from sleep apnoea?
It is true that the symptoms of sleep apnoea may not mean you actually suffer from sleep apnoea. That is why it is important to seek a second opinion from a professional. A sleep study will be undertaken to determine whether or not you have sleep apnoea.
A sleep study is a non invasive, overnight examination that monitors and assesses you while you sleep. It assesses what’s happening in your brain and body to identify possible disruptions in your sleeping pattern. It measures the following:
- The cycles of REM and NREM
- Eye movements
- Oxygen levels in the blood
- Heart rate
- Breathing rate
- Snoring and body movements
When left untreated, sleep apnoea can have a far-reaching impact on your quality of life; significantly reducing you effectiveness at work or in class as well as putting a strain on relationships.
It can also increase the likelihood of:
- Developing high blood pressure
- Developing an irregular heartbeat
- Heart attack or stroke
Continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) is a method of treatment that relies on a machine. The CPAP machine increases the air pressure in your throat to prevent your airway from collapsing during sleep.
Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs) open your airway by moving your lower jaw (mandibular) forward. This helps prevent the collapse of your airway. It also helps improve the strength of your airway by enhancing the muscle activity of your tongue and supporting in the airway.
- Lifestyle changes
The choices we make on a daily a basis affect our health, and sleep apnoea is no different. If you’re overweight or obese, losing weight will help. Similarly, limiting your consumption of alcohol, avoiding it in the evening and quitting smoking will also help reduce and prevent sleep apnoea. Lastly, avoiding the use of sleeping tablets will also help reduce your likelihood of developing sleep apnoea.
Dental Sleep Apnoea Appliances
Oral appliances can be used to treat mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnoea.
- Mandibular Repositioning Device
This consists of a ‘mouth guard’ fitted to both the top and bottom teeth and then joined together in a way that forces the bottom teeth to stand in front of the top teeth. This pushing forward of the bottom jaw opens up the airway and supports it so that it is less likely to collapse, thereby reducing the severity of sleep apnoea.
- Invest in the Right Device
Whilst there are some kind of dental devices that you can buy over the counter which are cheaper, it is always best to invest in oral appliances that are made to fit you.
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Call us on (02) 9602 3339 speak to our friendly team today and book your free consultation today.