Oral Sleep Medicine is not a solo course of treatment embarked upon by a dentist, not even by us. Although we usually work on referral from a patient’s own GP we most often work on referral from a Respiratory Physician or a Sleep Specialist. Treatment can, of necessity, require, at times, a co-ordinated treatment program by a range of professionals including not just a Respiratory Physician or Sleep Medicine Specialist and ourselves but can also involve psychologists, ENT Specialists, Oral and Maxillo-Facial Surgeons and sleep scientists. It just depends on how complex the problem is.
There are various sleep apnoeas including central sleep apnoea (quite often spelled as apnea), not just obstructive sleep apnoea (more usually simply called OSA for short).
Although we talk of Sleep Apnoea as an entity by itself it is best thought of as a sleep related breathing disorder where the breathing disorder interferes with a normal sleep pattern.
There are various sleep apnoeas but we are mainly involved in providing a Mandibular Advancement Splint as an alternative to ongoing treatment with a CPAP machine for the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA).
As more and more research is being done into this condition it has been found that OSA is related not only to snoring but has been implicated in High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease and Insulin Resistant Diabetes.
It is a known factor in car accidents when a driver momentarily falls asleep while driving.
From a dental perspective ongoing research is focussed on sleep disordered breathing being implicated in excessive bone formation on the jaw bones as the patient grows older as well as various occlusal disorders.
Sleep disordered breathing does not just affect people who are overweight or middle aged and elderly. We have seen slim people and even children suffering from OSA.
Current thought is that OSA may be related to ADHD and learning difficulties in children and has been proposed as a possible cause of SIDS in babies.
Should you think that you or someone in your family may be suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea the you should discuss your concerns with your family doctor in the first instance, or, if not, then at least discuss your concerns with us at your next dental visit. We can help with appropriate referrals.