Snoring & Sleep Apnoea

This page is designed to give patients information on these fairly common and sometimes potentially serious conditions.

 


What is snoring?


The main cause of snoring is the partial closure of the airway during sleep. During sleep muscles in the neck relax and for some people the soft tissues in the upper throat vibrate, making the sound we know as snoring. This is a fairly common condition and can be described as anti-social.

 


What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?


Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a serious medical condition where the airway gets blocked during sleep causing pauses in breathing. If we compare OSA to simple snoring, simple snoring is the vibration of the soft tissue in the throat caused by a partial closure of the airway, whereas OSA is caused by the complete closure of the airway. The closure of the airway causes breathing to stop, which in turn reduces the oxygen level in the blood.

It mainly occurs in middle-aged adults, but can affect any age.

As a result of the sleep fragmentation, many sufferers have excessive daytime sleepiness, resulting in their inability to concentrate with mood, personality changes alongside anti-social snoring. OSA can cause problems during activities where it is important to be alert, such as driving and operating machinery. Research has demonstrated that the repeated falls in oxygen levels in the blood caused by OSA are linked to the development of high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes and diabetes. 



Treatment


The clinically proven options are:

1.      Lifestyle changes, such as, reducing alcohol intake, losing weight and stopping smoking.

2.      Continuous Positive Airways Pressure (CPAP)

3.      Mandibular advancement splints

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is the most common and best treatment for sufferers of severe obstructive sleep apnoea, There are many types of CPAP equipment and a number of CPAP products. CPAP treatment is not recommended for the treatment of simple snoring.

Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS) are removable appliances that may be one or two parts, attached to the upper and lower teeth. They are worn at night time to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea. They hold the lower jaw in a forward postured position. Such appliances are usually advised by the sleep team and the orthodontist.

 

For sleep apnoea treatment

More information on obstructive sleep apnoea and what the orthodontist can do for you can be found by downloading our Patient Information Leaflet here

Find out more

Click to visit these useful external sites

»SIGN guidelines

Click for information on the management of sleep apnoea by the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN)