Using Oral Appliance Therapy to Combat Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a common sleep problem that affects both adults and children. The condition causes sufferers to stop breathing very briefly several times a night as they sleep, and this happens as a result of soft tissue at the back of your throat collapsing and blocking your airway. Apnoea episodes can reduce your oxygen levels and cause you to have poor quality of sleep. Here's an overview of the causes and signs of obstructive sleep apnoea and how oral appliance therapy can provide relief from this condition:

Causes And Signs

It's not always possible to identify a cause for sleep apnoea, but there are several risk factors that should be taken into consideration. Males are more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnoea than females, and those who are overweight, have large tonsils or a small lower jaw are susceptible to developing this sleep condition. Obstructive sleep apnoea can also occur as a result of chronic sinus infections or having a deviated septum.

Signs that you may be experiencing obstructive sleep apnoea include regularly experiencing restless sleep with recurrent awakenings and having episodes, however infrequent, of waking up gasping for breath. Loud snoring and having a sore throat or headache on a regular basis when you wake up in the morning can also indicate you are experiencing sleep apnoea.

Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea when a patient cannot tolerate continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which involves sleeping with a mask over your nose and mouth to keep your airways open. Some people find CPAP uncomfortable, and these patients are referred to a dentist for oral appliance therapy. This involves having impressions of your teeth taken in the same way you would if you were being fitted for a mouth guard or soft splint. The impressions are used to make an appliance that looks similar to a sports mouth guard, but it's designed to hold your lower jaw in a forward position while you sleep. This keeps your upper airway open, and your dentist may refer you to a sleep clinic to check the appliance has resolved the sleep apnoea. If required, the appliance can be adjusted, and adjustments will be necessary if your jaw is still growing, your wisdom teeth come through or you have a tooth extracted.

If you think you could be experiencing obstructive sleep apnoea, schedule an appointment with a family dentist or doctor as soon as possible, as untreated sleep apnoea can increase your risk of developing other health issues, including heart disease and high blood pressure.