· By Michael Heffernan
Advice on Sleep Apnoea and Dental Health
Sleep Apnoea can be a difficult, and scary, condition to live with and we'd like to offer some dental health advice.
Firstly, what is it and how does it impact on daily living and sleep?
Sleep Apnoea happens when the soft tissue in the back of the throat and tongue close the throat completely, which prevents air from getting to the lungs. This can happen anything from a few times a night to several hundred times per night! The pause in breathing can be more than 10 seconds at a time, which lowers the oxygen content of the blood and therefore the heart has to work harder and with lower oxygenation to fuel the cardiac muscles. It can lead to tiredness and fatigue during the day with risks of accidents or more serious consequences such as heart disease and stroke.
The simple approaches to help with this can include losing weight and sleeping on your side. However, often another approach such as a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device may be advised. This device opens the airway with a small positive pressure via the nose and/or mouth during sleep.
Some people find it hard to tolerate CPAP and, like aids to prevent snoring, another approach is to wear an appliance in the mouth that holds the lower jaw forward and opens the airway in that way. Both appliances can dry the mouth making the teeth more susceptible to damage from the reduced protection of saliva.
Oral hygiene is critical otherwise loss of tooth substance means that the support of the bite is reduced leaving people more over closed and hence more at risk of snoring or suffering from sleep apnoea. Likewise, loss of teeth and the need for dentures means that the risks of obstruction increase enormously.
Alternatives to appliances are surgery to open the airway, help stimulate the tongue to stay forward or decrease the bulk at the back of the throat. Surgery again should be reserved for when primary, non-invasive approaches are unsuccessful. Ask your dentist and family doctor about finding the best pathway to a good nights sleep, because sleep is crucial for maintaining mental and physical health. Good luck and remember...
Dr. Heffs Remarkable Mints contain natural ingredients and are caffeine-free and sugar-free. One of the main ingredients is green tea extract that is decaffeinated, as this helps to protect the collagen that makes up your teeth and is also antibacterial. Since Dr Heff’s Remarkable Mints contain de-caffeinated green tea, you will get the benefits but will not harm your sleep even if you need to use a mint in the night to help with dry mouth or to help soothe a cough.
They are ideal for people that suffer from dry mouth as they help to stimulate saliva and the mint leaves the mouth feeling fresh and clean. They are scientifically tested by international dental schools, recommended by dentists, and endorsed by Toothfriendly International.
Dr. Mike Heffernan and the Dr. Heff's team