Obstructive sleep apnoea

03 February 2011
Volume 27 · Issue 2

Matt Everatt reviews the role of the dentist in snoring.

Matt Everatt reviews the role of the dentist in snoring.

Almost everyone will encounter a sleep-related breathing irregularity, typically snoring, at some point in their life, whether they suffer themselves or are kept awake by a partner or co-habitee.

While most sufferers will dismiss the problem as merely an annoyance, for some, if it remains untreated, it can become a debilitating condition with a number of maleficient side effects. In serious cases the condition may worsen to become obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), the most common category of sleep-related breathing disorder.

All dentists will be aware any activity within the oral cavity has a direct influence on air transit and so may be associated with snoring and sleep apnoea. Obstructive sleep apnoea is defined as the total cessation of the airflow into the lungs during sleep caused by an obstruction, resulting in gaps in regular breathing which provoke the sufferer to wake suddenly, often with a loud snore, a snort or a gasp. While a complete collapse of the pharyngeal airway induces OSA, a partial closure causes the air to vibrate as it passes through the throat, resulting in snoring.

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