What is Sleep Apnea and What are the symptoms and Treatments?
Are you waking up your partner or family every night with your snoring? Maybe you wake up unrefreshed or even gasping for air! You might have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea, also referred to as Sleep Apnoea, is a serious condition that can eventually lead to other physiological disorders like elevated blood pressure or heart ailments. The good thing is most sleep apnea sufferers can be helped.
But first, how do you know if you have it and is it only seen in adults? The truth is sleep apnea can be seen in both adults and kids and there are a few signs you should watch out for at home that might help your doctor with a diagnosis.
For children, if they sleep with an open mouth or you often seen drool on the pillow, these can be warning signs. Otherwise wetting the bed, having a short attention span or hyperactivity, snoring or having tonsillitis frequently - could also point to sleep apnea.
In adults, symptoms of sleep apnea are often related to fatigue. Feeling tired or lacking in energy and snoring are key signs. You might also notice a drop in libido and excessive wear of your teeth, maybe even cracking and chipping.
So what do you do now? Most likely, this isn’t the first time you’ve thought about sleep apnea. Maybe even your partner or doctor mentioned it. For a lot of sufferers, dentists are usually the first to pick up on possible sleep apnea due to the excessive wear on adult teeth that they see at a regular 6 month checkup. This wear or damage can be a sign of the clenching and grinding of teeth at night, as well as snoring. Your dentist might even notice with a child that has trouble sitting still or other behavioural problems.
Don’t despair, sleep apnea can be treated, even in children. It is important to start talking to your doctors about the possibility of sleep apnea and how it can affect your family. Your kids will start with an airway assessment, including X-rays. Following that, will be a referral to a paediatric Ear, Nose and Throat specialist to assess the size of your child’s tonsils. Once that’s done, you’ll need a dentist to help you out. The most important type of dentistry for children suffering from sleep apnea is preventative orthodontics (also known as interceptive). Here at Artarmon Dentists, Dr Radhika specialises in orthodontics
and is excellent with kids!
For adults, the process is a bit different. You’ll start with the same Ear, Nose and Throat assessment but will also need a referral to have a sleep study. Following that, most adult sufferers use oral appliances. Oral appliances come in two forms: CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines or custom oral devices. CPAP machines involve a system of tubing, a plugged in machine and a mask that must be worn over the face for the duration of your sleep. As you can imagine, this isn’t ideal for a relaxing night’s sleep and a lot of clients are turning to oral devices to help with their sleep apnea.
Oral devices are great because they’re portable and don’t require a power outlet. Two such devices are Somnodent and Oventus. Both of these devices are custom made so that you’ll be comfortable while you sleep (unlike using a CPAP device). Somnodent and Oventus look like mouthguards - albeit slightly complicated ones - and they both work by moving your jaw forward. Somnodent allows you to open and close your mouth, yawn and even drink! Oventus has the added advantages of providing you with an added custom built airway and allowing breathing through the device, thereby helping people with allergies or nasal issues not allowing them to breath through their nose. Your breathing can bypass any obstruction in the nose that causes the snoring as well. At Artarmon Dentist, we put our pride in Dr Mehta, who specialises in the creation of custom made oral devices.
Contact Artarmon Dentists
If you’ve been told you have sleep apnea, or suspect you might, call to book in with Artarmon Dentists today so we can help fix your sleep for tomorrow.