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Commonly asked questions about Sleep, Sleep Apnea and Treatment Options.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, you are not alone.

An estimated 100 million people across the globe have Sleep Apnea as per data from the World Health Organisation.

So, what does a normal night’s sleep look like?

A normal night’s sleep is like a beautiful slow swell on the ocean, a series of waves where you go into deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) three or four times per night. In deep sleep your body and brain recuperates from the day’s activities and after a great night’s sleep you will awake feeling refreshed and recharged.


So, what happens with Sleep Apnea?

sleep is interrupted when a person stops breathing during the night. In deep sleep the muscles completely relax and the tongue can drop back, closing off the airway. Apneas are more susceptible when a person sleeps on their back, in what is called the supine position. Apneas can last for ten seconds and in severe cases up to a minute. Try holding your breath for a minute! Its very difficult, and easy to imagine why people feel exhausted after repeating this many times an hour, all night long.

During an apnea the brain registers that there is a build up of carbon dioxide in the blood and releases adrenalin to wake the body up and start breathing again. This can happen many times a night; and instead of a beautiful slow restful swell, your ocean becomes a chop with many instances of wakefulness.

People with sleep apnea will often complain of waking tired in the morning and are often sleepy during the day due to their interrupted sleep

So why should I seek treatment?

We all know how it feels when we have one bad night’s sleep

• Tired during the day

• Grumpy

• Short tempered

• Can’t think straight

Sound Familiar?

Sleep is the basis of good health, feeling well and being happy. Sleep gives ourbody and mind time to recover and rejuvenate.

So, imagine if you didn’t sleep well every night of the week.

Daytime tiredness can impact on you, your relationships, your career and left untreated can lead to debilitating illnesses. We all know about the dangers of the tired driver and the increased risk of motor vehicle accidents.

Today, employers recognise the danger of Sleep Apnea and actively screen for it in the workplace. This is common in the transport and mining industries.

But aside from safety in the workplace every individual should be aware that if left untreated Sleep Apnea will have long term health effects, including:

• An increased risk of Cardiovascular Disease

• An increased risk of Stroke

• An increased risk of Diabetes

• An increased risk of Depression

What are the treatment options?

Once diagnosed your physician will discuss treatment options with you. Besides surgery and weight loss your main options are CPAP, a machine which delivers pressurised air through a mask to open your airway. Or COAT (Continuous Open Airway Therapy), an oral appliance created by SomnoMed that a trained dentist custom fits to your mouth. Before choosing a sleep apnea treatment option, talk with your doctor. The severity of your sleep apnea and your current physical and medical condition will determine the best treatment option for you.

Conservative Management:

Weight Loss – In overweight patients losing weight is advisable as it can help reduce apneas and may alleviate symptoms.

Positional Therapy – If your sleep apnea is dependent on the position you are sleeping, for example apnea mostly occurs when you are lying on your back; then positional therapy may be an option for you. There is a range of devices such as bumper belts and vibrating collars that can help guide you back to a side sleeping position and reduce apneas.

Health & Sleep Hygiene – In some cases quitting smoking, reducing your intake of alcohol or the use of nasal sprays to treat allergies may be helpful and have an effect on your sleep related breathing disorder

Oral Appliance Therapy:

SomnoDent is indicated for use in patients with mild to moderate OSA or in severe cases where you are not able to manage CPAP therapy.

SomnoDent is a custom fitted dental device, worn while you sleep, that fits over your upper and lower teeth and is designed to keep your airway open by holding your lower jaw forward. It is comfortable, discreet and easy to use. Thus, most patients have no problem wearing it all night every night. A recent clinical trial involving compliance monitoring microchips found average nightly usage of SomnoDent was 7.5 hours. (ref1)

These devices are fitted by a dentist over a number of visits and may need to be adjusted to ensure the device is working well. Because the causes of OSA vary, it is hard to predict how well an oral device will work for you. Part of the cost of SomnoDent is covered by most health insurance providers.

CPAP: Continuous Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is recommended for use in Moderate to Severe OSA. It is a machine that delivers pressurised air through a mask placed over your nose and mouth while you sleep.

Although CPAP is a very reliable method of treatment some people find it cumbersome and uncomfortable. Due to this people may not wear their CPAP all night every night, which reduces the effectiveness of their treatment. Recent data from the SAVE study showed average CPAP use to be 3.3 hours per night (ref2).

CPAP should be fitted by a professional technician who can find the right mask and pressure to make treatment as comfortable as possible. Trials of CPAP can be offered before purchasing a machine, and part of the final cost is covered by most health insurance providers.



Surgery may be considered where there is a distinct obstruction to the nose and/or throat. There are many types of operations that can be performed depending on the problem and this will require an opinion from an Ear Nose & Throat surgeon. The risks and benefits need to be weighed up in each case and is often considered a last resort.

Surgery can however be used in conjunction with another treatment option. For example nasal surgery may be required to assist CPAP or SomnoDent treatment to allow for suitable airflow and make the treatment more tolerable. In children with OSA surgery to remove tonsils and adenoids is common and often very beneficial.

Commonly asked questions

I am sleeping poorly but I don’t know what the problem is?

Talk to your GP and ask for a referral to a sleep specialist to have a sleep study to identify the issue and discuss treatment options.

I had a sleep study some time ago but never did anything about it. Can I start treatment now?

Treatment referrals from a sleep study are active for 3 years. If your referral has expired talk to your GP about another sleep study. These can be performed by staying overnight in a sleep clinic or as a home sleep study in the comfort of your own bed.

I’m struggling with CPAP, and don’t like the mask. How does the mouth guard work?

The SomnoDent works by gently holding your jaw forward during sleep. This holds the base of your tongue off the back of your throat and improves the patency of your airway, reducing snoring and sleep apneas.

It is a comfortable two piece ‘mouth guard’ that can be adjusted to bring your jaw further forward if needed, and fitted by a dentist trained in sleep medicine.

There is an increasing body of evidence to show that SomnoDent is effective because of the high level of comfort. Patients wear their SomnoDent on average 7.5 hours per night (ref1). While average nightly use of CPAP has been reported to be 3.3 hours per night (ref2).

I travel a lot. What treatment would be best suited to my lifestyle?

SomnoDent is the ideal travelling companion, with no batteries or need for plugs and cords. It’s very small and comes in a convenient travel case that fits easily in your toiletry bag.

What happens if my SomnoDent doesn’t work?

For private patients if the device is comfortable and at optimum titration after a follow up sleep study your average number of apneas (AHI) have not reduced by 50%, SomnoMed will credit your dentist the cost of the device who will pass this onto you.

Does my Health Insurance cover NHS SomnoDent?

The N.I.C.E. guidance approves oral devices to treat mild and moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) as a choice of treatment. Some hospitals are able to offer SomnoDent depending on the agreement with their CCG so it is worth asking at the Sleep Clinic you are assessed in.

Private Insurance

If you are a snorer or a mildly apnoeic patient your CCG may not provide an oral device via the NHS however you can get a SomnoDent via a trained sleep dentist please contact info@dentalspecialistsmk.com

So, what is the process from here

When your physician recommends SomnoDent, please contact us at info@dentalspecialistsmk.com to be connected to a trained sleep dentist. At your first visit, the dentist will confirm that a SomnoDent device is suitable for you.

Once confirmed and you are happy to proceed, your trained dentist will take an impression of your upper and lower teeth and send these impressions to SomnoMed where we make up your custom made SomnoDent. After two weeks your dentist will make a second appointment time to come back in and have your device fitted.

Comfort is the key to successful treatment and your dentist will ensure your new device fits well, is comfortable and retentive. The dentist will give you instructions on fitting and removing your device and cleaning and care instructions.

Your dentist will book you in for a third consultation after you have become used to wearing your device. If everything is going well and you are sleeping and feeling better there is no need to adjust the device. However, if there are still some symptoms your dentist will adjust the device and move your jaw a little further forward.

You may also be referred back to your Sleep Physician within the next 12 months for a follow up appointment to make sure that your new SomnoDent device is effective in treating your sleep apnea.

We hope this information has been useful and has given you reassurance that this is a very positive step to better sleep and a healthier you.

Recommended SomnoMed Dentist:

Dr Carol Subadan

Dental Specialists MK
Text & images from: UK Patient eBook 903429 Rev A | Copyright©2018 SomnoMed Inc.




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