Sleep apnoea is slightly different from snoring, and while people with sleep apnoea will snore loudly, it’s punctuated by frequent pauses in breath lasting for several seconds. Sleep apnoea is caused when the throat muscles relax during sleep, allowing the airway to collapse inwards, preventing the body from receiving oxygen. After a few seconds, the brain registers this fact and prompts the body to stop breathing again, often with a loud snort or gasp.
These pauses in breath aren’t enough to completely awaken the sufferer, but they prevent deep, restful sleep. Consequently, people with sleep apnoea are often exhausted, have trouble concentrating during the day, and are at higher risk of having high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke and other health problems. Treating sleep apnoea helps to reduce these risks.
Our dentists can often detect signs of sleep apnoea because it’s frequently associated with other problems like teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism) and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). This condition causes painful jaw joints. If necessary, we can refer you for a sleep study to confirm if you have sleep apnoea and the degree of severity. Mild sleep apnoea is often treatable with a custom-made oral appliance that moves your lower jaw slightly forwards, helping to keep your airway open.