You wouldn’t be alone! Despite years of self-denial, our own Dr David Marriott self-diagnosed his own sleep apnoea problem during a lecture.
“There are a high number of people who do suffer from it and either aren’t aware of it – and that probably would be most people – or just don’t see a need for the therapy to help themselves through it,” Dr Marriott said. This sparked his interest in offering these treatments at the Marriott and Hand practice and educating patients about their conditions.
What is sleep apnoea?
Sleep apnoea is a condition where the airway, normally around the throat region, collapses when you are asleep and therefore, air is unable to get in or out of your lungs. It doesn’t matter how hard you try. Generally, people who suffer from this condition aren’t particularly aware of it and even long-term partners may not notice, as you won’t generally wake up fully throughout the night, instead you will be brought to a semi-aroused state before falling back to sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnoea vs central sleep apnoea
There are two basic forms of sleep apnoea and it’s important to make a distinction between the two. The first, central sleep apnoea, cannot be treated by dentists with the provided appliance. In fact, prescribing the appliance to patients suffering from central sleep apnoea may cause further complications. The second form is known as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) which can be managed by the dentists at Marriott and Hand with the use of an appliance. All patients who wish to receive treatment will first need to see a sleep specialist and have a diagnostic test to ensure we are dealing with OSA. We at Marriott and Hand will be happy talk you through the steps required.
Symptoms of sleep apnoea
Patients who suffer from sleep apnoea may find themselves falling asleep during the day, fatigued or drained during everyday tasks. For example; do you fall asleep whilst you’re a passenger in a car or even worse do you fall asleep while you’re at the traffic lights in your own car? You may be suffering from sleep apnoea.
This will happen because your body just isn’t getting the rest it really needs and it tends to try and play catch up wherever it can. If your airways are being blocked and the oxygen is not getting into your lungs then you’re constantly fighting and almost waking up throughout the entire night. This process happens so frequently that you never really get a full night’s sleep. But again, often times you may not be fully aware of that.
Sleep apnoea treatment
At Marriott and Hand, we partner with a company called SomnoMed who supply SomnoDent appliances that we are able to prescribe to patients to help treat OSA. The appliance works in a similar manner to two acrylic mouth guards (one for top jaw and one for bottom jaw) that are semi-locked together to bring the mandible (the lower jaw) forward along with the tongue. This treatment works to open your airway while you are sleeping so the oxygen is reaching your lungs to breathe comfortably and achieve a full night’s sleep.
Before we are able to prescribe the appliance, we first need to make sure that the teeth are in an adequate condition to be able to support the appliance because there are some fairly heavy forces which are generated by the mandible or the muscles that control the mandible.