Why do we snore?
Over a third of the UK population snore. During sleep our throats narrow as muscles relax. Snoring is the noise made when the back of the tongue and throat then contact. The narrower the space, the louder the snore.
What is sleep apnoea?
5% of snorers also have apnoea. It is as common as asthma. In these individuals their throats completely close during sleep and they stop breathing. This can last 10 secs to 2 mins and can happen up to several hundred times a night. The sleeping brain is forced to awaken momentarily to allow air into the lungs, which is very is stressful for our bodies.
Why is snoring and sleep apnoea a problem?
Simple snoring has significant effects on quality of life for the snorer and their partner. It is socially embarrassing and can lead to relationship breakdown.
Sleep apnoea is linked to acid reflux and increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, diabetes and excessive daytime sleepiness, leading to accidents at work and whilst driving.
What can we as dentists offer?
All patients should be properly assessed by a trained dentist to determine whether they are simple snorers or may have apnoea. Over the counter remedies for snoring have repeatedly been shown to be of little use and can be harmful if the patient has undiagnosed sleep apnoea.
If we suspect apnoea the patient will be referred to a sleep clinic for further tests for confirmation of this.
All simple snorers and mild to moderate apnoeics can be successfully treated in dental practices.
We will offer advice on lifestyle changes which can be of great benefit.
If these changes don’t help, then a specialist appliance called a Mandibular Advancement Device is constructed. These are similar to upper and lower mouth guards which are fastened together and hold the bottom jaw slightly forward during sleep preventing the throat narrowing,so the back of the tongue and throat don’t contact.
Success rates vary depending on several factors.For simple snorers success rates of over 90% have been reported.
If you would like more information please contact one of our care team who will be happy to help.