Healthcare in Australia has begun focusing on the way we sleep, our behaviours before bedtime, what influences the quality of our sleep, the consequences of poor sleep, and available treatment options. Sleep disorders are extremely common and they have detrimental effects on patients and their partners. At Kedron Family Dental, we have treatments available for snoring, bruxism and sleep apnoea.
Snoring may be normal, but it is often a sign of a more serious, medical issue. Snoring can lead to increased episodes of acid reflux, enlarged uvulas, and potentially an increased risk of stroke. Snoring can also be a sign of sleep apnoea.
Causes of Snoring
Snoring can be caused by a number of factors, including the anatomy of your mouth, your alcohol consumption, nasal problems, sleep deprivation and your sleeping position. Certain risk factors contribute to your likelihood of snoring, including being a man, being overweight, drinking alcohol, a history of obstructive sleep apnoea, and narrow airways.
Symptoms of Snoring
The symptoms of snoring include:
- Paused breathing during sleep
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
- Difficulty concentrating
- Morning headaches
- Sore throat in the morning
- Restless sleep
- Gasping or choking at night
- High blood pressure
- Chest pain at night
- Your snoring is so loud it’s disrupting your partner’s sleep
All children who snore or breathe loudly most nights of the week should be assessed by a dentist. Other signs that a child may have sleep-disordered breathing include teeth grinding, behavioural issues at school, mouth breathing, bet wetting, dark circles under the eyes, and many more. It is important to note that there can be permanent changes to children’s health/IQ if sleep disorder is not identified and treated early enough.
Once the cause of your snoring has been assessed, your dentist will give you instructions on the best way to treat it. If it is a lifestyle factor, there are daily changes you can make that will minimise or eliminate your snoring. If it is caused by obstructive sleep apnoea, read the information below on treatment.
People who suffer from teeth grinding seem to have a poorer quality of sleep. There seems to be a shift from blaming the grinding habit for causing micro arousals during sleep, to looking at whether micro arousals caused by sleep disordered breathing are actually the cause of grinding.
Causes of Bruxism
Bruxism can be caused by mental afflictions such as stress, anxiety and anger. Teeth grinding can also be caused by misaligned jaws and as a response to pain. Read more on Bruxism here.
In children, it is believed that in 80% of cases where children grind their teeth at night, their habit stops after they have their tonsils/adenoids removed. There is some thought that the action of teeth grinding may be an attempt to open up the airways.
Symptoms of Bruxism
The symptoms of teeth grinding include:
- Facial pain
- Pain and stiffness in the jaw joint and muscles
- Disrupted sleep
- Work-down teeth
- Broken teeth or fillings
It may help to wear a mouthguard or splint at night if you suffer from bruxism. These devices are designed to even out the pressure across your jaw and create a barrier between your teeth that can take the force of your bite.
Also, it is helpful to organise regular dental appointments so your dentist can diagnose your symptoms earlier on and prevent extensive damage to your teeth.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is characterised by repetitive pauses in breathing during sleep despite the effort to breathe. This can be a serious disorder that negatively affects a patient’s quality of sleep.
OSA is caused by an obstruction of the upper airway that prevents the sufferer from taking a full breath while they sleep. In adults, the most common cause of OSA is excess weight. During sleep when the muscles relax, soft tissue can cause the airway to become blocked.
Symptoms of OSA
The symptoms of OSA include:
- dry mouth or sore throat in the morning
- fatigue, having to have day naps, falling asleep during the day easily
- gasps for air during sleep, chokes, coughs
- frequent urination during the night
There are various medical professionals we can refer you to for an initial airway assessment and/or sleep test. A sleep study is usually recommended and can be conducted in a clinic or in your own home. A diagnosis is then made by the sleep or respiratory specialist and your treatment options are discussed.
There are various treatment options that vary from person to person, including:
- addressing weight loss, allergies, alcohol intake, medication and sleep behaviours
- CPAP machines for moderate to severe apnoea
- Oral appliances for mild to moderate apnoea (we can custom make these at Kedron Family Dental)
- Tongue appliances to suction your tongue forward and open the airway
- Oral myofunctional therapy to improve the muscles around the mouth