Beacon Dental Clinic, Suite 1 & 2, Beacon Consultants Clinic, Sandyford, Dublin, D18 E7P4 Tel: +353 1 213 5644

Don’t Lose Sleep Because You Snore

Sleep disorders don’t just affect marriages, they harm the quality of a good night’s rest and can cause some serious health risks. It is now widely recognised that dentists can play a key role in the treatment of certain sleep disorders, including snoring and sleep apnea, according to a report in the December issue of General Dentistry, the clinical, peer-reviewed journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).

“Your dentist should be able to complete an initial consultation to determine the problem by asking how you are feeling upon wakening or if you wake up in the middle of the night,” says AGD spokesperson T. Bob Davis, DMD, FAGD. Once the initial consultation is completed, your dentist might consult with a physician or a sleep clinic to determine a diagnosis.

Snoring is caused by vibration at the back of the throat, and dental appliances sometimes help to minimise or eliminate the problem. “The diagnosis is key because snoring alone doesn’t automatically signify a serious problem. For basic snorers, an oral appliance can provide relief because it repositions the jaw, muscles, tissue and tongue. The appliance helps breathing become less laboured, giving a person more room to breath quietly,” says Dr. Davis.

People with sleep apnea do not get enough oxygen during sleep, and breathing actually stops for a short period of time, predisposing them to impaired daytime functioning, high blood pressure, heart attack and possibly stroke.

If you snore, most dentists can help or refer you to a physician to determine if there is an underlying medical problem. If you want to try to reduce the symptoms of snoring yourself, Dr. Davis recommends losing weight, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption when appropriate.

Sleep apnea is a serious, potentially life-threatening sleep disorder. It owes its name to the Greek word apnea, meaning “want of breath” and refers to episodes in which a person stops breathing for 10 seconds or more during sleep. With each episode, the sleeper’s brain briefly wakes up in order to resume breathing, resulting in extremely fragmented and poor-quality sleep.

What are the different types of sleep apnea?

There are two major types of sleep apnea, both of which can severely disrupt the regular sleep cycle:

  • Obstructive apnea: A s you sleep the muscles in the walls of your throat relax to the point where the airway collapses and prevents air from flowing into your nose and mouth, but efforts to breathe continue. This is the most common type of apnea.
  • Central apnea: Breathing interruptions during sleep are caused by problems with the brain mechanisms that control breathing.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

People with sleep apnea usually do not remember waking up during the night. Indications of the problem may include the following:

  • Morning headaches
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability and impaired mental or emotional functioning
  • Excessive snoring, choking or gasping during sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat


What is the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?

Unlike mild snoring, individuals with sleep apnea stop breathing completely for 10 seconds or more, typically between 10 and 60 times in a single night. A person with severe sleep apnea may have more than 100 waking episodes. If your partner hears loud snoring, punctuated by silences and then a snort or choking sound as you resume breathing, this pattern could signal sleep apnea. While snoring and sleep apnea are related disorders, not all snorers will develop sleep apnea, and not all sleep apnea patients snore.


Why is sleep apnea a concern?

Studies have shown that patients with this potentially life-threatening disorder are so fatigued during the day that when driving, their performance is similar to that of a drunk driver. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to impaired daytime functioning, high blood pressure, heart attack and possibly stroke. If you already have a weakened heart, apnea can aggravate your condition by placing stress on your heart during sleep.


Who is at risk for developing sleep apnea?

. Risk factors associated with sleep apnea include the following:

  • Physical abnormality in the nose, throat or other parts of the upper airway
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking, which can cause inflammation, swelling and narrowing of the upper airway
  • Use of alcohol or sedatives and sleep medications


How can my dentist help?

If your dentist suspects you suffer from sleep apnea, he or she may refer you to a physician or a sleep specialist. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your dentist can work closely with your physician to implement and manage the prescribed therapy.

What are my treatment options?

Treatment is based on your medical history and a physical examination. If you have mild obstructive sleep apnea, initial treatment may include avoiding sleeping on your back, losing weight or cessation of smoking. Dental appliances that reposition the lower jaw and the tongue have been helpful to some patients with mild sleep apnea or those who snore but do not have apnea.

To learn more – contact the Beacon Dental Clinic today 


american college of prosthodontics
Irish Sleep Society
Dental Sleep Medicine
Irish Dental association

Beacon Dental Clinic, Beacon Consultants Clinic, Dublin, D18 E7P4, Ireland

Tel: +353 1 213 5644 | Fax: +353 1 213 5645 | Email:

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