Sleep Quality

Do you wake up feeling unrefreshed even after a full night’s rest? Do you suffer from general daytime tiredness? Have you been told that you snore at night? If you or someone you know suffers from one or more of these symptoms, it could be a sign of a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnoea.

Sleep apnoea refers to a common sleep disorder in which your breathing is reduced (shallow breaths) or may completely stop altogether during sleep. This causes your blood oxygen level to fall, which in turn triggers your brain to wake you up briefly to start breathing again. Typically, when normal breathing resumes, this can sometimes begin with a gasp, loud snort or choking sound. These episodes may occur many times throughout the night, and you may not even know it is happening. As you can imagine, having interrupted sleep throughout the night can put a strain on your body. If left undiagnosed and untreated, it can have serious long-term implications on your overall health and well-being.

Common sleep apnoea symptoms include

· Snoring

· Poor concentration and memory

· Fatigue

· Excessive daytime sleepiness

· Waking up unrefreshed after a full night’s rest

· Low energy

· ‘Gasping’ for air during the night

There are 3 types of sleep apnoea. As dentists, we do not have the tools necessary to diagnose if you have sleep apnoea and to what degree of severity is your sleep apnoea. However, we work closely with a few health professionals – medical General Practitioner, a Sleep Physician and an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist.

The most common sleep apnoea condition is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) – which occurs when your tongue and airway muscles relax resulting in intermittent episodes of airway obstruction during sleep. Although there are different treatment modalities depending on the degree of severity of your sleep apnoea, an alternative treatment includes a mandibular advancement splint (MAS), which is something a dentist is able to fabricate to help you have a good night’s rest, especially if a CPAP machine is not tolerated well.

An MAS is an oral appliance comprising of a mouth guard fitted to both the upper and lower teeth, which aims to position the lower jaw slightly forward, keeping the airway open and therefore reducing apnoea episodes during sleep and lessen the severity of the episodes. By positioning the jaw in a forward position, this also helps to tighten the muscles to keep the airway open, preventing the upper airway tissues from vibrating, which in turn prevents or minimises snoring.

Sleep apnoea does not discriminate – it can affect anyone from all walks of life and at any age. If you or someone you know suffers from any of these symptoms, it would certainly be worthwhile to speak to a qualified health professional about this.

Since sleep apnoeas can vary in its presentation, we would strongly recommend an assessment first. Come in and say Hi to our friendly team of dentists at Chermside Dental Care who will be able to assist you in answering any further questions you may have!

By Dr. Evelyn Ong BDSc (UQ)

Senior Associate Dentist at Chermside Dental Care