If you answered ‘yes’ to several of the above, you could have sleep apnea.
When he was a dental student, Dr David Kerr worked in a sleep clinic so he has a long history in dental sleep medicine.
These days, in our Aspley practice, he sees first hand how snoring or bad sleep can mask sleep apnea.
“Mostly, patients come to us because they’ve been told they snore and if they don’t do something about it, the show’s over!” says Dr Kerr. “Patients who snore don’t know they may have sleep apnea.”
Sleep apnea is a common yet serious disorder where you stop breathing during your sleep – from 10 seconds or longer each time.
Your oxygen levels drop and you wake up. This stop/start disruption to your breathing process can repeat many times an hour.
It happens because there’s an obstruction in your upper airway.
The muscles in your throat relax, causing the airway to close up. Because there’s not enough volume for the air to move in and out of the airway, it causes the back of the throat to vibrate – the snoring noise.
A sleep study can determine which type you suffer from.
When you stop/start breathing again and again during your sleep, it can reduce blood flow to your brain and cause serious long-term health issues – some life threatening. This hidden killer is on the rise and recognised as a global epidemic.
Consequences of OSA and not getting a good night’s sleep:
Not everyone knows that your dentist can play a critical role in identifying and treating this common sleep disorder.
If you suspect you or your partner suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, we can talk to your GP and start the ball rolling to help you get diagnosed.
You may be referred to a sleep clinic for a sleep study. This test is usually done in a hospital environment where you’re hooked up with monitoring equipment while you sleep.
Other than putting a name to your condition, it’s also beneficial to be diagnosed as it means you can talk to your health insurance company about any possible rebates on treatment for sleep apnea.
While a CPAP machine is considered the most effective treatment for OSA, Dr Kerr says 65% of his patients can’t, or won’t, wear the mask.
“If they’ve already been diagnosed with sleep apnea, they may have tried wearing a CPAP machine and no longer want to because it’s too uncomfortable and dries out their mouth. That’s when they come to see us about a dental device like Oventus.
“Working with sleep physicians, we can treat people very effectively with these devices.”