While snoring is certainly common – in fact, a combined 34% of Australian men and women are believed to suffer from some type of snoring issue 1– it does not mean that it is ‘normal’ and certainly not something that should be ignored.
When we sleep our body is able to repair itself so that we wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. If we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies aren’t able to properly recharge and we can wake feeling drowsy, moody and unwell. If this happens night after night then this can also have a detrimental impact on our nervous system, leading to a higher risk of developing serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
While in most cases, it may not impact our sleeping pattern, excessive snoring can lead to various problems including sleep disturbance, relationship conflict and frequent and sudden waking during the night. In extreme cases, it can also cause sleep apnoea – a serious and potentially fatal disorder where your tongue relaxes, causing your airways become partially or fully blocked.
Although the signs and symptoms of sleep apnoea are wide and varied, according to Snore Australia, most people experience one or more of the following:
- Gasping, snorting or choking during sleep
- Excessive day time drowsiness or fatigue
- Lack of energy
- Disturbed sleep
- Poor concentration and memory loss
- Irritability, anxiety or depression
- Frequent urination during the night
- Rapid weight gain or difficulty losing weight
Sleep apnoea can affect people of any age but there are number common causes including obesity or excessive weight gain, a large neck circumference and any other jaw, palate, bite and facial abnormalities. Age and genetics is also thought to play a role, with people over 65 years considered the most susceptible. Certain medications, smoking and excessive drinking can also place you at a higher risk of developing sleep apnoea.
Depending on the severity of the sleep apnoea, this fragmented style of sleeping and breathing can last anywhere from a minute or so all the way through to more than one hundred times per night.
While the direct effect of snoring on our oral health is considered to be dry mouth, the lack of saliva which is needed to moisten other surrounding tissues can lead to other issues including bad breath, gum disease, tooth decay, infection, inflammation and/or a burning sensation around tongue, lips, palate, throat or the entire mouth.
When it comes to treatment, removable oral appliances and mouthpieces such as splints (or night guards) are one way to help treat snoring as well as mild and moderate sleep apnoea. Resembling a mouthguard, splints push your lower jaw forward to help keep your airways open while you sleep. Choosing to wear one of these snoring mouthpiece devices certainly has its advantages over traditional surgical options. Not only is the device relatively inexpensive, but it is also non-invasive and easy to incorporate and adjust to in your everyday life. If you no longer want or need to use the appliance, simply take it out of your mouth.
Depending on the severity of your sleep apnoea, you may need an anti-snoring appliance known as a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine which uses a steady and gentle stream of air to keep your airways open throughout the night while you sleep. In cases where traditional treatment options have been not been effective, some people may elect to have their extra tissue in their throat surgically removed or their jaw, nose and facial bone structure adjusted.
If unaddressed or left untreated, sleep apnoea can contribute to other serious and sometimes fatal health problems including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. People suffering from sleep apnoea might also find that they struggle with insomnia, anxiety, depression, memory loss and impaired cognitive function.
While it may be tempting to explore remedies for treating snoring naturally or at-home, it is important that you consult a trained professional or dentist to assess the severity of your situation and to determine the best form of treatment for you.
You can read more on snoring and sleep apnoea here.
If you are having trouble sleeping, please give us a call on 08 9440 4455 or request an appointment online to discuss your treatment options, today.