Questions And Answers About Snoring And Apnoea

These questions and answers about snoring and apnoea are commonly dealt with in our clinics. 

If you have a question about snoring or apnoea, please contact us and we'll happily research the matter and provide an answer.

Q: I snore and I grind my teeth. My dentist says I will need a special plate to protect my teeth. Can I still use an oral appliance?

A: The teeth grinding condition you refer to is known as 'bruxism'. You should certainly talk to your doctor to try to determine the reason for it. If a 'bruxing plate' is deemed to be an appropriate treatment for your condition, you will need to be fitted for it by a dentist.

Presuming you're suitable for oral appliance therapy, the dentists at our clinics are able to fit you for a single device which will be suitable for both your bruxing condition AND your snoring.

Q. Why do I snore sometimes but not at others?

A. The conditions which allow the muscles of the jaw and throat to relax are not always consistent. Alcohol, sedatives, fatigue or stress can trigger those conditions. Then, as we get older the muscles lose their firmness in the neck, throat and jaw. This allows the jaw and airway walls to drop more and make the airway narrower.

What should we do about a snoring child?

A: Sleep disordered breathing is common in children, with recent research showing clear links to learning difficulties, reduced IQ and attention deficit / hyperactivity conditions. A child who snores loudly, frequently, or who stops breathing during sleep should be examined by an otolaryngologist (ENT specialist) for possible enlargement of the tonsils and adenoids or other causes of airway obstruction. Allergy treatment and/or a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy may be required. The Sleep Therapy Clinics are not equipped to treat pre-pubescent and pubescent children, but we will happily perform the initial testing and arrange a referral to an appropriate paediatric specialist.

Q: Can my family dentist do this? Why do I need to go to an Accredited Sleep Therapy Clinic?

A: Any dentist is technically capable of making an oral appliance -- but oral appliance therapy for the treatment of snoring or apnoea / apnea can only be performed by a qualified dentist who has undergone special training in the field. Very few dentists have completed this training.

A specialist sleep physician must be involved in the diagnosis of the patient's condition and must be involved in deciding which treatment is most suitable. Very few dentists have any sort of relationship with these specialists.  The Sleep Therapy Clinics always involve independent specialist sleep physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

In order to ensure the most comfortable and effective fit, the dentist should be able to choose from a wide variety of different appliances to suit the 'oral topography' and other requirements of the patient. Very few dentists are even aware of the range of appliances which are available.

Finally, in order to ensure the treatment is effective, pre- and post-treatment sleep studies must be done to confirm that an improvement has occured.

The results of all assessments and tests are discussed with specialist sleep physicians and other healthcare professionals, including the patient's doctor, to ensure the best possible treatment is delivered.

The short answer is 'Yes, you can get an appliance made by your own dentist. But it would be unwise to do so.' This is a specialised field which very few dentists are highly competent in.

Q. Does losing weight and doing more exercise help stop snoring?

A. Excess weight and lack of exercise are not the cause of snoring, but they will make things worse. Losing weight and doing more exercise are good for you and may help.

Q. I have been told that I stop breathing for a few seconds then start snoring again with a grunt and a splutter. What is happening?

A. What you describe is called 'sleep apnoea'. In its commonest form the soft tissue of the tongue and upper airway collapse and close the airway off. In severe cases, breathing may stop for up to two minutes at a time, up to 20 or more times per hour. This form of sleep disordered breathing has serious consequences for the sufferer. Reduced oxygen levels in the blood affect the heart and brain -- and the struggle to regain our breath starts off an automatic response that disrupts the natural sleep patterns and over time leaves the sufferer sleep deprived. It is vitally important you seek treatment for your condition.

Q. How long will an oral appliance last? What is the effectiveness over the long term?

Depending on the type of appliance, the material used in its construction, and the level of care and maintenance thereafter, a device can easily last for 3 years or even longer. Ultimately, though, the device will need replacing (just like dentures ... or a pair of shoes ... it will generally become less effective over time.)

There are two reasons why replacement is necessary. First, because the harsh oral environment takes its toll over time and the materials will ultimately deteriorate. Secondly, because the shape and structure of the patient's airway will change (typically through a loss of muscle tone or increased fat deposits in the tongue, soft palate and pharyngeal airway.)

Some of our more advanced appliances are adjustable and so we can extend the life of these appliances by adjusting them to suit the changes. Other 'non-titratable' appliances will work only while the patient's condition remains unchanged.

In either case, keep in mind that over the life of a treatment, the cost works out to only around a couple of dollars a day. That is a tiny price to pay for the benefits you and your partner will enjoy.

Q. Is oral appliance therapy suitable for patients who wear dentures?

'Edentulous' (toothless) patients are severely restricted in their ability to use oral appliance therapy because most appliances require a number of teeth to act as an anchor point for the device.

In some cases, special devices can be made for patients who wear dentures permanently. In other cases a device can sometimes be made to fit the gumline.

As a general rule, a jaw positioning device will require at least half a dozen solid and healthy teeth in at least the bottom jaw. A detailed assessment by a specially trained dentist is needed to determine whether the teeth are in suitable condition and positions.

If not, a different form of device known as a 'tongue stabliser' may be appropriate. This form of device works by holding the tongue forward, rather than the jaw.

A wide range of treatments are available through The Sleep Therapy Clinics and you will be advised on the best option during your initial assessment and consultation.


Q. Who decides what form of treatment is best for me?

All patients at The Sleep Therapy Clinics undergo a diagnostic sleep study before commencing treatment.  The data from this study is reviewed by an independent, specialist sleep physician.  This physician diagnoses the nature and severity of your condition and prescribes and appropriate form of treatment.  If you are unable to tolerate the recommended form of treatment, The Sleep Therapy Clinics are uniquely able to provide alternative forms of professional treatment, or referrals to appropriate professionals for alternative treatment.  This is all done in conjunction with the specialist sleep physician and your own doctor. 

Ultimately, your own preference counts for a great deal -- but we see our role as being to make sure you get a treatment which is truly effective, so you can count on us to do whatever is best for you. 

If you have any questions which you'd like answered, click here to contact us. We'll research your question and post an answer on this page so everyone benefits.

If you'd like information on how The Sleep Therapy Clinics' effective, painfree and inexpensive treatment can help, call 1300 246 637 now to speak with a friendly treatment coordinator.

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