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Sleep Apnoea – Role Of A Dentist In Treating It!

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By Dr. Premendra Goyal , Dentistry

When a person snores, we generally tend to poke fun at his expense, but this could be a symptom of a larger problem. Obstructive sleep apnoea is a common condition that is characterised by the blockage of airflow while sleeping leading to the repeated stopping and starting of the lungs. This can affect the quality of a person’s sleep by making him wake up in the middle of the night. Men have a higher risk of suffering from this condition as compared to women.

Some common symptoms of this condition include: 

  1. Heavy snoring that may be interrupted by pauses
  2. Noisy breathing
  3. Excessive drowsiness through the day
  4. Irritability
  5. Frequent headaches in the morning
  6. Mood swings
  7. Forgetfulness
  8. Anxiety
  9. Depression
  10. Reduced libido

Sleep apnoea can range from mild to severe and can be diagnosed with the help of a sleep study. The number of times your breathing stops while sleeping during one night determines the severity of the condition. If left untreated sleep apnoea can lead to a number of more serious problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, heart disease, erectile dysfunction and chronic acid reflux. Thankfully, it can be easily treated through surgical and non-surgical methods. The latter is usually preferred and has a high success rate.

Non-surgical methods of treating sleep apnoea include: 

  1. A change in lifestyle: An unhealthy lifestyle that includes excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, obesity etc can aggravate this condition. Hence, patients are often recommended to exercise regularly so as to lose weight and improve their overall health and abstain from alcohol and quit smoking. Sleeping on your side could also make you more comfortable.
  2. CPAP: A CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure device may be worn while sleeping to prevent your airways from closing and deliver a continuous air supply through the mask. However, this may not be very comfortable to wear and sleep in.
  3. MAD: A mandibular advancement device or MAD is a more comfortable device to treat sleep apnoea. This device needs to be fabricated by a dentist according to the structure of your teeth. To fit this device to your teeth, your dentists will examine your mouth and take an X-ray of your teeth. He will then take a mould of your teeth which will be used to create the appliance such that it fits your teeth perfectly. This device needs to be worn by the patient before going to bed. This device can be described as a gum shield that fits your teeth and holds your tongue and jaw forward so as to increase the space at the back of the throat. This allows air to pass freely while you sleep. Apart from being more comfortable to use, a mandibular advancement device is also easier to wear, portable and easy to travel with thus making it a preferred choice for many patients. If you suffer from snoring, ask your dentist today about MAD.
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