Sleep Apnoea

A common sleep disorder

It’s estimated that about five per cent of Australians suffer from this sleep disorder, with around one in four men over the age of 30 years affected. Sleep apnoea is one of the most common sleep disorders in Australia (and the world), but it often goes undiagnosed.

Ashfield Dental Centre is proud to offer support for those suffering from sleep apnoea. Our caring, experienced staff are well versed in diagnosing and caring for patients with the disorder, and we’re able to provide referrals to specialists and can help provide treatment options when needed.

What is sleep apnoea?

Sleep apnoea occurs when the walls of the throat come together or collapse during sleep, blocking off the upper part of the airway. This can greatly decrease your quality of sleep, which can have negative effects on the rest of your life. In itself it isn’t life-threatening, but it can greatly impact your quality of life.

Warning signs for sleep apnoea

Since many signs and symptoms can occur on their own or due to other causes, many people don’t know they have it. To recognise sleep apnoea, you’ll need to look for a combination of signs.

During the day, you might notice:

  • You feel tired or depressed
  • You feel irritable, agitated, aggressive, or cranky
  • You have short term memory problems
  • You have high blood pressure, a slow metabolism, diabetes, or gastric reflux
  • Your mouth and throat feel dry or sore
  • You’re gaining weight or struggling to lose it

At night you may:

  • Have restless sleep
  • Experience night terrors, sleepwalking, or bedwetting
  • Have trouble waking up in the morning, even if you got enough sleep

Your partner may notice that you:

  • Snore or ‘squeak’ during your sleep
  • Look like you have breathing difficulty while sleeping
  • Sleep with your head in a strange position
  • Breathe through your mouth
  • Appear restless while you sleep

diagnosis and treatment

You can talk to your dentist during your check-up if you think you may have sleep apnoea, or you can see your GP. If your dentist notices that you’re showing signs of the disorder, they may refer you to a sleep medicine specialist who can provide a diagnosis and a treatment plan. Your dentist may also be able to provide elements of your treatment, such as helping to create a customised mouthguard if it’s a suitable treatment method for you.

It can have detrimental effects on your everyday life. When your sleep is disrupted, your metabolism and libido can be affected, your blood pressure can rise, your mood can drop significantly and you may feel too tired to work.

The loss of sleep can also increase your risk of heart disease, heart failure, stroke, developing diabetes, and falling asleep while driving. If you suffer from ADHD, its effects are likely to be worsened by sleep apnoea. The combination of these complications can drastically decrease your life expectancy, which is why sleep apnoea needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Sleep Apnoea Treatment options

Your dentist will help you decide on which treatment options are best for you at your consultation, and will be able to answer any questions you have and address your concerns.

specialised sleep mask

  • Most common way to treat sleep apnoea
  • Worn while you sleep
  • Attaches to a CPAP machine, which forces air through your nose to force the back of your throat open.

Specialised mouthguard

  • Can be used to treat mild to moderate sleep apnoea
  • Moulded to fit your mouth
  • Works by holding the lower jaw forward while you sleep, which helps open up your airway.
  • Not suitable for severe cases

Lifestyle changes

  • Weight loss and reducing your alcohol intake may be recommended to reduce your symptoms.
  • You may also be recommended to get checked for any thyroid conditions or have your tonsils removed.
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