sleep disorders

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

Approximately one third of the Australian population is thought to suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea.  The majority of sufferers are male.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) involves repeated episodes of airway obstruction during sleep, due to relaxation of the tongue and airway-muscles.  Sufferers of OSA stop breathing several times a night  and may wake up choking although many will have no recollection of the episode.  If left untreated sleep apnoea increases the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, heart attack, type-2 diabetes, depression, impotence, mood disorders, reduced sex drive in males and females and motor vehicle and industrial accidents.

Common symptoms of OSA

  • Snoring
  • Waking unrefreshed
  • Excessive daytime tiredness or fatigue
  • Waking during the night choking or gasping for air.
  • Waking with a dry or sore throat
  • Irritability, anxiety and mood changes.
  • Poor memory and concentration
  • Morning headaches
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Frequent night time urination
  • Tooth grinding

Many patients are unaware that they have the condition, or do not realise that it is severe.

Risk factors for sleep apnoea include

  • Family History
  • Large neck circumference (greater than 43 cm in men and 40cm in women)
  • Medications especially sedatives at night
  • Obesity
  • Smoking and drinking large amounts of alcohol at night


Sleep apnoea can be detected with an overnight sleep study called a polysomnograph (PSG) at a hospital or sleep laboratory.  Sleep phycisians specialise in the management of patients with sleep disorders and can help advise on the best form of treatment.  At Natural Holistic Dentist we can assist in referring you to a sleep centre and liaise with your sleep physician.



Treatment of sleep apnoea falls into the basic categories of lifestyle changes, medical intervention and oral appliances.  Lifestyle changes may include weight loss, changes to mattress position, cessation of smoking and reduction in drinking.  The CPAP machine (continuous positive air pressure) machine is used to pump air at a continuous pressure through a mask worn over the nose and mouth at night, this prevents the airway from closing over.  Oral appliances can be used to manage minor and moderate sleep apnoea. In suitable cases the oral appliances have the advantage of being silent, portable and also prevent the teeth against damage from night time grinding.  At Natural Holistic Dentist we use the Somnodent appliance.  The Somnodent is a two part appliance that moves the lower jaw forward to help prevent airway collapse during the night.