World Sleep Day takes place this month (17 March). Designed to be a celebration of sleep, it coincides perfectly with National Bed Month, another campaign reminding us all of the importance of a good night’s rest.

However, it’s not all sweet dreams and beauty sleep for a large number of us.

The survey, Sleep: A Global Perspective, discovered that work-related stress and money worries can often put paid to our ‘switch off’ time and, while some 80% of those surveyed around the globe could see the need to improve sleep – widely recognised as important to our overall health and wellbeing – most had failed to take steps to cure it.

This year’s World Sleep Day message is ‘sleep soundly, nurture life’ – and, with our help, we aim to ensure each and every one of our patients gets that all-essential good night’s rest.

Many of us know only too well what it’s like to have our sleep disrupted by the snoring habits of partners – it affects 40%, after all. And, whilst it isn’t usually a cause for concern, it can sometimes suggest a bigger problem.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder that involves short to lengthy pauses in breathing or shallow breathing and is caused by a decreased or obstructed airway passage.

They may occur 30 times or more an hour and normal breathing starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking noise.

It’s estimated that 5% of Brits remain undiagnosed with OSA, suggesting a large number may benefit from proper screening, diagnosis and treatment.

Happily, there is a solution and it may surprise you to learn that it lies in the dental clinic – and, at Bow Lane Dental, with our dentist, Selvy – who can fit you with a snore guard or sleep apnoea device that enables you to grab some quality sleep.

Selvy explains: ‘OSA derives from a number of factors, usually in combination. This includes anatomical and physiological components, such as the shape of our heads or a muscular impairment in the mouth, throat or anywhere in the airway passage.

‘We can identify genetic factors, as often our anatomical features can be linked back to generations. In addition, there is often one or multiple aggravating factors, such as sleeping position, alcohol, smoking, pulmonary conditions and obesity.’

She says: ‘Identifying OSA or snoring patients starts by asking simple questions. They usually present complaining of snoring, which more often is noticed by their partner. In addition, they might complain of gasping, stopping breathing, and urinating often at night. As part of a general examination, we might find discrepancies in the relationship between the upper and lower jaw.

You may think to mention problems with snoring to your GP, but have you ever told your dentist?

Selvy explains: ‘More often than not, OSA patients ring up asking if we provide devices for their sleep apnoea – these patients have been diagnosed elsewhere previously. Many people are unaware that dentists can make a significant change, or they might assume it is a habit that cannot be changed.

‘I offer patients Sleepwell, a medical dental sleep appliance. Patients wear it at night, and it works by moving the lower jaw slightly forward and in a slightly open position, which opens the airway enough to allow a good passage of air.’

Sleepwell reduces the snoring to an acceptable level and resolves the symptoms of patients with OSA.

It is used to treat mild snorers to severe sleep apnoea patients, who cannot tolerate other treatments and, for whom, Sleepwell can at least provide some relief.

Selvy says: ‘The appliance works by recording our teeth and the relationship between the upper and lower teeth, with a set of impressions to create moulds’

The device is relatively comfortable, although it might just take a little time to get used to – much like wearing in a new pair of shoes, says Selvy – so it might take a few days to find it fully comfortable at night.

Clinically, it improves sleep quality and blood pressure. It is non-invasive and the compliance level of patients is really good.

Sleepwell also promises to instant relief.

Selvy says: ‘Often patients lose days and weeks worth of sleep, woken up by their own snoring or by the lack of breathing. For those suffering in silence, simply wearing Sleepwell can change this pattern even from the first night of wearing it!’

Sleepwell should be worn for as long as necessary to resolve symptoms and for a minimum period of three months, although many patients opt to wear it for as long as they need it.

Selvy says: ‘OSA is a debilitating condition that can have serious consequences for patients and their partners. At Bow Lane Dental, we are committed to helping patients live life to the fullest and embrace all patient-focused innovations that help clients to improve their quality of life. This now includes getting a good night’s sleep.’

By James Goolnik

www.bowlanedental.com/sleep-apnea.html