What is snoring?Snoring is the noise caused by partial closure of the airway due to the relaxation of the soft tissue in the upper throat. Certain factors increase the chances of snoring; physiology, gender, age, weight and lifestyle. Factors that lead to increased soft tissue around the neck contribute, as do factors that cause additional relaxation of muscles, such as drinking alcohol or the use of sleeping tablets.
What is obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)? In extreme cases, partial closure of the airways can result in a drop in oxygen reaching the lungs. Equally, individuals can stop breathing all together, with the sleeper starting to breath again with a gasp, choke or snort. This is indicative of OSA, where our body is starved of oxygen for a short period of time. The body typically responds by a partial awakening due to an adrenaline surge, leaving sufferers often exhausted during the day.
The effects of snoring & OSA Snoring and sleep apnoea can have an immense impact on the sufferer, their partner and their family:
- daytime sleepiness
- motivational issues
- high stress levels
- lack of energy
- driving whilst tired
- poor effectiveness
OSA is also shown to contribute to more serious health issues:
- increased risk of mental health concerns
- increased blood pressure/hypertension
- increased risk of diabetes
- heightened chance of cadiovascular disease
The patient care pathway Your dentist is able to offer a comprehensive diagnosis, treatment and follow up care service which should initiate with a snoring assessment – using clinically recommended measures to best understand you and your concerns. The assessment will highlight if OSA is a factor that needs further investigation. If this is the case, your dentist will refer you to your GP who may suggest a sleep study to accurately measure OSA. In addition, treatment should be offered – lifestyle choices need to be considered and a mandibular advancement splint (MAS) is suggested.
A sleep study is the only way to diagnose and determine the severity of OSA. It does this by measuring:
- oxygen levels
- pulse rate
- breathing effort
- air flow
- body position
Mandibular advancement splints (MAS) Working to prevent closure of the airway by holding the lower jaw in a stable position, your dentist will likely recommend a MAS for snoring, and mild to moderate OSA. For many, a MAS can have a life-changing impact.
The most clinically-proven MAS for the treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnoea is the SleepwellTM, available from a network of trained dentists that understand the symptoms and are equipped to assess, diagnose and refer on if OSA is suspected.