How to treat sleep apnoea

If you are suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea symptoms, we may be able to assist you.

Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder that causes various issues. It occurs when the soft tissue at the roof of the mouth or throat collapses during sleep, creating a narrowed airway. When this happens, positive airway pressure is blocked, resulting in the cessation of breathing for a small amount of time. Consequently, sleep apnoea can decrease sleep quality by causing a lower oxygen level being delivered to vital organs.

If you believe that you may be suffering from sleep apnoea, we recommend that you ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you constantly feeling tired?
  • Do you feel that you are fatigued due to a lack of sleep?
  • Fall asleep while sitting reading or in front of the TV?
  • Are you regularly feeling foggy during the day?
  • Do you have high blood pressure, and is it hard to control with medications?
  • Are your blood sugar levels all over the place?
  • Are you diabetic, but don’t believe that your diet is a problem?
  • Do you find that you need to get up at times during the night to have a drink, or go to the bathroom?
  • Too exhausted to do the exercise that you would like to do?
  • Do you find it hard to shake off extra weight?
  • Find it difficult staying awake on live drives?
  • Are you suffering symptoms of depression, insomnia or anxiety and don’t know why?
  • Have you noticed a loss of sex drive, or have erectile dysfunction?
  • Is your work performance not up to your usual standard?
  • Have you been told you have Atrial Fibrillation?
  • Have you previously had a heart attack or stroke?
  • Is your academic performance not what you expect?
  • Do you have concerns over early signs of dementia?
  • Has your partner complained of being woken up by loud snoring coming from you?
  • Have you previously been diagnosed with sleep apnoea?
  • If so, have you tried using a CPAP machine in the past, and could not tolerate it?
  • Is OSA standing in the way of you holding a driver’s licence or any transport licences for a commercial operator?
  • Do you believe it’s too hard to treat OSA, and have resigned yourself to the thought of just living with it?
  • Are you worried that your life expectancy is potentially shortened?

If any of the above questions have left you wondering, then it may be time for a fresh look by obstructive sleep apnoea experts. After all, if the condition is left untreated it can increase the risk of major health problems such as hypertension, heart attacks and strokes.

How is sleep apnoea normally treated and diagnosed?

First, you need to know if you have it, or if you are simply just a snorer. Thankfully, however, there are health professionals who can provide various treatment options with either way. The diagnosis is always officially made by a sleep physician rather than your doctor or dentist. It may be obvious that you do have sleep apnoea, but if you need to know to be able to hold your transport licences, a specialist must be involved. The diagnosis is made by a study known as a Polysomnography.

This is done in one of two ways. Either you go through your GP doctor to a sleep specialist, or directly to a hospital-based sleep unit where you spend the night with the required sensors and monitors attached. It can also be done in your own home in a process known as a diagnostic home sleep test. Many find the home sleep test much simpler. Because of its simpler nature, a sleep apnoea diagnosis can occur in a far shorter time. The rather convoluted method of going through your doctor, either with or without seeing the sleep specialist, then getting booked into the sleep unit, then waiting for your doctor or specialist to see you again with the results and a diagnosis, may take numerous months.

Done through a diagnostic sleep test, arranged through Future Dental, we simply run through several sleep questionnaires and score you on that, then get you in contact with one of Australia’s biggest Sleep Laboratories, where your questionnaires are assessed by their doctors. They then authorise whether Medicare will cover all but $99 of the cost for your Sleep Test. If your scores are not quite high enough for Medicare to cover their part, your costs will be $350.

No matter the result, it is still worth the money for such an important and life-changing diagnosis.

The diagnostic sleep test process

The sleep laboratory contacts you and sends you out the Diagnostic Sleep Test Kit at your chosen home address. You are given very clear directions on how to set yourself up and simply sleep the night with the various sensors attached and return it the next day.

Within a few weeks, we receive the formal diagnosis from a Specialist Sleep Physician. Usually, this happens months earlier than the other method. We send you the results, also to your GP doctor, and discuss the findings and recommendations with you.

One of your health professionals may recommend that you try CPAP first, as it was the original treatment for OSA. Even at Future Dental, we would want to know that you have had the opportunity to do a trial with CPAP. Regrettably, CPAP has quite a high intolerance rate. Studies have indicated up to 50% of users have abandoned it by 12 months, and up to 83% by 24 months.

The biggest reason for CPAP to be poorly tolerated or ineffective is nasal obstruction. If people mouth-breathe while sleeping, their chances of CPAP being a good treatment for OSA, are greatly reduced. Other reasons may be claustrophobia, getting tangled up with the hose attached to your facemask from tossing and turning in bed, air leakage and bloating, strap pressure discomfort, sweatiness, and other reasons.

How do dentists fit into OSA treatment?

Generally, dentists are usually the first to identify where the obstruction or blockage to your airway is occurring. Dental sleep appliances called Mandibular Advancement Splints (called MAD or MAS) are custom-made for your needs. These oral appliances work by pulling your lower jaw forward to get your tongue clear of your throat while sleeping.

They are now shown to be as effective in most cases as CPAP is, but with a far higher tolerance and the likelihood of perseverance in wearing. This is largely because they are less uncomfortable and portable in comparison to CPAP.

There are numerous versions and brands available, and with our 30+ years of experience in making these splints, you will get the most appropriate type of MAD for your needs. We also have a vast wealth of knowledge regarding other areas of OSA management, and simple lifestyle adjustments.

Snoring and sleep apnoea treatment in Cairns

If you are looking to treat sleep apnoea, we recommend that you contact Future Dental to discuss your concerns. With over 45 years of experience in dentistry, we are the acknowledged experts in the dental management of OSA in Cairns.

If you are interested in the treatments offered for sleep apnoea at Future Dental, take a look at our treatments. Alternatively, you can also see the treatments we offer for sleep apnoea at Dental Sleep Med.

Get in touch with Future Dental today and see the difference they can make for you.

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    93-95 McLeod St

    Cairns QLD 4870
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