Recent studies have shown that approximately 40% of the adult population in industrialised countries snore and that for men over 60 years of age this increases to 60%.
During sleep, there is a natural relaxation of the muscle tone associated with the neck and airway. Particularly when associated with the person lying on their back, this results in partial or even occasionally complete blockage of the airway.
The noises produced are caused by the normal volume of air having to travel faster through a reduced space. Normally the soft palate and uvula vibrate to produce the characteristic sounds.
In a very small minority of cases, the obstruction is so severe as to cause actual respiratory arrest, defined as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, when the breathing is suspended for longer than ten seconds at a time. This potentially serious condition requires medical attention if it occurs on a regular and prolonged basis.
To relieve normal snoring, numerous types of surgery have been attempted with varying degrees of success.
Recent research in dentistry has seen an oral appliance developed which when worn at night pulls the lower jaw forward, thus increasing the available airway space and so greatly reducing blockage and consequent vibration. Whilst success cannot be guaranteed, studies have shown that for many cases total noise reduction can be achieved.
Approximately a third of patients may have some residual noise.
The appliance is best described as two mouthguard like structures of minimal bulk, linked by two thin laterally rotating connectors which gently ease the lower jaw forward.
Movement of the jaw is still possible and the appliance continues to work whether the mouth is open or closed. The presence of nasal obstructions such as polyps does not prevent the use of the appliance.
As with all advanced treatments requiring subject compliance and perseverance, some patients will of course experience initial difficulty in adapting to such an appliance, with mild discomfort of the jaw joint and perception of jaw misalignment upon waking being reported.
However, these appear to be transient symptoms, which disappear with increased wear and experience of the treatment.
Each appliance is custom made for the individual patient and a range of connector types are produced to suit various applications. The devices are manufactured in a laboratory from dental impressions of the patients’ jaw.
We are pleased to be able to offer this valuable service to our patients.