Snoring and sleep apnoea often go hand in hand, and both bring with them some unwelcome side effects. Fortunately oral appliance therapy devices like a mandibular advancement splint, has proven effective for the management of sleep apnoea and snoring, and can bring relief from the side effects and complications of these sleep disorders.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (Osa)?
Sleep apnoea is a potentially dangerous condition where the patient stops breathing multiple times throughout the night. This recurs throughout the night for short intervals, causing disruptions to your sleep patterns because your body tries to wake you up when your brain realises you are deprived of oxygen.
You may not waken fully but you will gasp and cough, and probably change positions, rousing you from deep sleep. In the morning you may not feel rested, and you may experience unwanted side effects such as
- Daytime fatigue
- Jaw pain, tenderness or stiffness
What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Apnoea?
If you suffer from sleep apnoea you may experience some symptoms such as
- Frequent waking during the night
- Complaints from your bed partner who can’t get a full night’s sleep
- A sore throat in the mornings
- Forgetfulness, moodiness or concentration problems
Obstructive Sleep apnoea is often accompanied by snoring and teeth grinding at night and it is often your bed partner who will notice the nighttime disruptions first. It is a potentially dangerous conditions because people who suffer from sleep apnoea are at higher risk from conditions such as
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure
Getting a full and good night’s rest is an important part of optimal performance. Being tired and drowsy also means you are more likely to underperform and be less alert when driving a car.
What Are The Risk Factors For Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?
While the condition can affect anyone (even children) there are some risk factors that include
- Being overweight
- Being male
- Having obstructive sleep apnoea run in your family
- Facial features such as large sinuses, or a small jaw
- Older than the age of 40
- Having a big neck size
How Oral Appliance Therapy Can Help With Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?
Oral appliance therapy, making use of devices such as a mandibular advancement splint can assist in the management of obstructive sleep apnoea.
During apnoeic episodes, the airways in the throat collapse, making it impossible to breath. Collapsed airways that vibrate against one another is what causes the sound associated with snoring. Using a mandibular advancement splint at night pushes the jaw and tongue forward, which prevents the airways from collapsing.
What Are The Benefits Of Oral Appliance Therapy For OSA?
Manage the symptoms of OSA
Making use of oral appliance therapy can manage the side effects of sleep apnoea by reducing the number of apnoeic episodes you experience every night. This means a better night of sleep, and the opportunity to wake well rested and perform optimally. Having a good night’s sleep assists with moodiness and concentration levels during your waking hours.
A welcome alternative to CPAP
Oral appliance therapy is also much more comfortable and bearable than CPAP machines, which are more restrictive because they require you to wear a mask and be hooked up to a machine. Some patients report it is more difficult to sleep with a CPAP device than living with obstructive sleep apnoea.
Portable and convenient
Oral appliance therapy like a mandibular advancement splint can work independently of electricity. Mandibular advancement splints are also portable and easy to travel with (unlike a CPAP). They also do not make a noise and won’t disturb your slumber.
What Can You Do To Improve The Symptoms Of OSA?
There are some measures you can take, and lifestyle amendments you can make to help your sleep therapy approach. These include:
Quitting smoking and drinking
People who drink alcohol, especially in the hours before bed, have been associated with OSA and snoring. If you can’t stop drinking altogether, limit your alcohol intake at night. You should also avoid the use of sleeping tablets and tranquilisers, which may make your OSA worse. Having oral appliance therapy and addressing the root cause of poor sleep is a better long term strategy.
Smokers are also at increased risk for OSA, so if you haven’t quit yet, do it to get a better night’s rest. Smoking causes swelling in the throat, which makes your airways even narrower, and making breathing more difficult.
Lose some weight
Losing even a little bit of weight can improve your OSA symptoms, particularly if you lose it around your chin and neck area. Adding some exercise to your lifestyle is always a good idea, and can also contribute to getting a better night’s sleep.
Elevate your head
Propping your head up and keeping your head and neck elevated may also assist with snoring management.
Change your sleeping position
Sleeping flat on your back can exacerbate sleep apnoea. Try to sleep on your side to give your airways some relief.
How Is Sleep Apnoea Diagnosed?
If you present with the symptoms associated with sleep apnoea you can request a test called a polysomnogram or sleep study, which will assess you during your sleeping hours. If the condition is confirmed you may have other tests done to establish the most appropriate course of treatment. Using an oral appliance can help to manage your sleep apnoea by ensuring your jaw is kept open. It may also assist in managing dental damage caused by grinding and clenching.
If you have specific questions about oral appliance therapy and how it could benefit your sleep apnoea symptoms or snoring problems, it’s best to speak to a professional. Please contact us for an appointment as soon as possible: