Splints and Snoring
There are many suggested remedies for snoring, including the occasional dig in the ribs, but occasional snoring is very different to Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA).
OSA is a partial or full blockage of your airway that occurs several times a night, and causes reduced oxygen flow to the brain, interruptions to sleeping patterns and may result in severe fatigue.
There is often a relationship between persistent, heavy snoring and sleep apnoea and available treatments range from the use of mouth guards to more specialised oral appliances for sleep apnoea, and if you are diagnosed with OSA, we may recommend trying a sleep apnoea mouthguard as a starting measure.
Minor disturbances to nightly sleep are normal but when sleep patterns become dysfunctional, the wider health risks are considerable, and long term causes depletion of oxygen to the blood and brain, which leads to fatigue.
OSA manifests as very loud snoring followed by episodes of silence punctuated by gasps for breath. In moderate cases, this disruption may only occur a few times a night, but in severe cases, it occurs constantly.
Although the causes of OSA may differ based on age, infants, children, adults and the elderly can all be affected by it. Whatever the age, the effects of OSA can be dangerous, as it depletes oxygen and can cause almost instantaneous sleepiness, as well as contribute to other health risks.
Once OSA is diagnosed, it is essential is to return the sufferer to normal sleeping patterns as quickly as possible, and how we achieve this is based on the individual case and may be a combination of dental and medical treatments.
There are a range of treatments for sleep apnoea depending on the severity of the condition.
If it is extremely severe, OSA sufferers may use a CPAP machine to regulate their breathing and oxygen flow at night, however, for many people a dental appliance known as a mandibular advancement splint is the first step.
These appliances are custom moulded to fit the mouth, can be adjustable or non-adjustable, and are worn during sleep. They hold the lower jaw slightly forward, which opens the airway at the back of the throat and keeps the tongue in a forward position so it cannot collapse backward to obstruct the airway.