What is sleep apnoea?
Sleep apnoea (or more correctly obstructive sleep apnoea) is a condition that affects about 5% of adults. In sleep apnoea the airway in your throat that leads from the nose and mouth to the lungs collapses when you fall asleep and muscles relax. If the collapse is severe enough it causes an apnoea (absence of breath). If it is a partial collapse it usually causes snoring. A person with severe sleep apnoea may have hundreds of these events each night which results in lack of oxygen to the body’s vital organs and disrupted sleep. Long term consequences are high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attack or stroke and, of course, sleepiness.
How do you treat it?
The most effective treatment is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). Unfortunately a number of people with sleep apnoea do not tolerate CPAP and turn to other treatments such as surgery to the airway or an oral appliance.
Oral appliances are called mandibular advancement splints (MAS) or mandibular advancement devices (MAD). The usual oral appliance consists of a “mouth guard” fitted to both the top teeth and the bottom teeth and then joined together in such a way that the bottom teeth end up in front of the top teeth. Pushing the bottom jaw forward in most people opens up the airway and supports it so that it is less likely to collapse, in this way helping to reduce either the number or severity of the apnoea events. For most people, advancing the jaw by about 8 to 10mm is enough to make a difference but this amount may need to be adjusted if it is not effective or if you find it too uncomfortable.
How do oral appliances compare with CPAP?
CPAP remains the gold standard for people with severe obstructive sleep apnoea. However, oral appliances are just as effective as CPAP for people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnoea or snoring.
How do I obtain an oral appliance?
Ask your GP or sleep specialist to write a referral letter addressed to us.
How much does it cost?
In most cases, the cost is around $1500-$2000 with most health insurance funds providing rebates. We also provide payment plans.
What happens if I just snore?
If your problem is not sleep apnoea but just that you snore and snoring is causing distress to you or your family, an oral appliance may be the solution. An oral appliance, properly fitted, is usually quite effective in stopping or reducing snoring.
For more information, contact us for a free consultation at: