All about snoring

Snoring is very common, but did you realise that your dentist may be able to help you treat it?

Byline: Dr David Power

A lot of people snore. It’s a common complaint and I get asked about it on a regular basis. There are oral appliances you can get that can reduce, or eliminate snoring for many people. But step one is actually to see a sleep physician.

One of the reasons people snore is because they suffer from sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder, where your breathing becomes irregular when you sleep. As a general rule all sleep apnoea sufferers will snore, but a lot of people who snore don’t have sleep apnoea—this is why you need to see a sleep physician first thing. You need to determine what your problem actually is.

At the sleep physician, you have a sleep study done and they may say ‘you’ve got moderate sleep apnoea and by the look of the shape of your throat it’s a narrow one, you’re not severe’. In this case, you could choose the oral appliance and there’s a pretty decent chance you’ll get a good improvement. Or they could say ‘you’re morbidly obese and your oxygen saturation’s really low. You have to use the C-PAP machine with the air flowing in, forcing you to breathe during the night’. They will be able to inform you what will be helpful for your individual requirements.

The two main ways of treating a person with sleep apnoea is either with a C-PAP machine, which you put on your nose, or a mandibular advancement appliance that is essentially an anti-snoring device from a dentist.

After your assessment with a sleep physician, you may receive a letter which you need to bring to me. The letter might say ‘I’ve seen Mr Smith and we discussed options and he’d like to try an oral appliance for his mild sleep apnoea and snoring.’

However you may want to ask me during your dental appointment. For example I have patients say ‘My wife’s complaining about my snoring, it’s killing her, what should I do? I’ve heard about these things you can get on the internet, these snoring devices, would they help?’

If you snore, but you have no sleep apnoea, the oral appliance is ideal. If you’ve got mild sleep apnoea or no sleep apnoea, but you snore, this will almost certainly fix your problem. I’ve got mild sleep apnoea and I have one I use off and on.

I had a sleep study done and went to the physician. He recommended I make one for myself. The ones we make are like a plate and we fit one on the upper and one on the bottom of your jaw. It’s adjustable which makes it more comfortable, so you can push it further forward or further back so you can fit it to your comfort.