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We spend a third of our lives asleep, but do we know what is happening in our bodies while sleeping? When you awake, do you feel rested? Or do you wake with headaches, muscle tension and overwhelming fatigue?
Snoring is one of the most common signs of a sleep breathing disorder such as Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), but only 50% of these patients snore. Grinding the teeth may be another sign.
Recent research has spotlighted the increasing prevalence of OSA, establishing it as a global public health challenge. OSA stretches across ages, genders, and backgrounds beyond its benign reputation as a “snorer’s disorder.” Over 936 million individuals worldwide suffer from OSA, with most cases remaining undiagnosed. This pandemic disrupts sleep and is linked closely to developing several serious medical conditions for the individual.
Concealed Dangers of Undiagnosed OSA
The consequences of untreated OSA extend well beyond disturbed sleep. Often disregarded as simple snoring or daytime exhaustion, this condition can serve as an alarm for significant health crises. Cardiovascular concerns such as hypertension, heart disease, and stroke are exacerbated by the persistent strain OSA exerts on the heart and body.
Moreover, cognitive decline, diabetes, and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression may have roots in untreated OSA. In Australia, the % of motor vehicle accidents caused by lack of sleep is 23%. More concerning is the number of undiagnosed individuals in occupations requiring concentration and alertness, such as drivers, childcare and health workers.
The Significance of Early Detection and Prevention
OSA frequently emerges during childhood due to breathing-related issues that influence the development of jaw and facial bone structures, simultaneously impacting airway development. Addressing these concerns in their infancy can deter the progression of OSA into adulthood. Dental Sleep Medicine is a discipline revolutionising the approach to sleep-related issues with a proven link between dental health and sleep quality.
Dr Elaine Ng, a dental sleep medicine practitioner at Smilefocus, is critical in evaluating and identifying patients at risk of sleep-disordered breathing. She provides comprehensive evaluations, oro-facial examinations and assessments following strict, evidence-based guidelines for patients requiring OSA screening. Dr Ng conducts thorough patient assessments and clinical examinations by scrutinising oral structure and facial growth patterns – potential OSA cases are identified. Early detection empowers patients to seek intervention.
The good news is that sleep-breathing disorders are treatable and can be prevented from worsening if detected early. Collaboratively, a multidisciplinary team encompassing sleep dentists and sleep physicians such as ENT specialists, respiratory specialists, neurologists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, speech pathologists, and psychologists. Together, they orchestrate comprehensive care that addresses every aspect of the patient’s health, facial growth, and sleep quality needs.
Dr Ng collaborates closely with otolaryngologists (ENT specialists) and utilises innovative and cutting-edge solutions. These may involve oral appliances optimising airway function, enhancing sleep quality and overall wellness, and long-term monitoring. This multidisciplinary approach between dental and medical specialists guarantees that patients receive tailored solutions.
The impact of Dental Sleep Medicine goes beyond mitigating sleep disorders; it improves patient quality of life. Individuals who once wrestled with restless nights, choking episodes, and daytime fatigue are awakened to a revitalised life.
Enhanced sleep quality propels energy levels, sharpens cognitive function, strengthens the immune and endocrine systems and elevates moods. Furthermore, reducing snoring and sleep apnea incidents alleviates stress on the cardiovascular system. Dental sleep practitioners remind us of the vital connection between oral health, facial growth, and sleep quality.
If someone you know is in need of treatment, encourage them to take the first steps today in getting diagnosed.
Article by: Dr Elaine Ng BDS (Singapore).
For further information contact Smile Focus at the link here.