Snoring can of course be very boring for your partner and put a serious strain on relationships, but it may also be a symptom of a much more serious condition – Sleep Apnea. Thousands of Australians suffer from this potentially serious condition but many of them are unaware as they are unable to recognise the symptoms and side effects themselves.

What causes snoring?

The distinctive melody of snoring is caused by the interaction of the tongue with the soft palette. The respiratory muscle in your throat relaxes causing the airway to narrow or even collapse. Your breathing then causes vibration, which generates the distinctive sounds of snoring.

If you’re a snorer don’t worry – you are not alone! Up to one third of Australian snore, with the most obvious impact being to drive your partner round the bend.

However, a more serious issue is that snoring can often be an indicator for Sleep Apnea…

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea could almost be described as an extension of snoring. The airways narrows to the point of closing up completely, temporarily stopping the sufferer from breathing, which in turn wakes them up.

The oxygen deprivation can last as long as 10-20 seconds per cycle and in severe cases this may happen 100’s of times per nigh, resulting in the sufferer never entering a normal sleep cycle.

The most obvious symptom is the resulting sound but the sufferer themselves will be blissfully unaware of this and needs to reply on their partner as a first step – the sound will be less like snoring and closer to choking or actually stopping breathing!

Side effects you can notice for yourself are tiredness even after a seemingly good length of sleep, headaches or a dry mouth in the morning, and a lack of concentration during the day. Given the fast-paced age we live in, the latter is often easily attributed to any number of factors such as stress and diet.

What can I do about it?

Sleep Apnea is a serious condition and if you are concerned or think you may have it then you first port of call should be your GP, who may refer you to a specialist of even a sleep clinic, where you stay overnight under observation.

Once diagnosed, treatments start with some relatively easy (for some) lifestyle changes – drink less alcohol, try to lose some weight and try sleeping less on your back and more on your side.

Melbourne’s Bond Street Clinic offer a dental solution using a mandibular advancement splint called the SonoMed MAS™, a custom-made oral appliance which is worn during sleep hours to aid in the treatment of both snoring and mild to moderate Sleep Apnea by moving the lower jaw forward slightly to open up the airway. Treatment involves one initial appointment to take impressions of the upper and lower jaws followed by a second appointment to fit the appliance. This simple appliance is effective in up to 80% of cases of Sleep Apnea and up to 90% of cases of snoring.

While for sleep-deprived partners it may well be worth its weight in gold, the actual cost using ’s world-class team of experts ranges from around $500 up to $1,500. My team and myself are always happy to see patients and discuss costs before any decision needs to be made.

Whilst there are cheaper devices available on-line or through pharmacies, we believe that many of these may in fact do more harm than good, and that a custom-made solution is needed to be safe, comfortable and effective.

For severe cases surgery is an option and there is also CPAP, or “continuous positive airway pressure”, which is a mask worn at night to deliver slightly pressurized air during the breathing cycle, but many are put off by the discomfort of this device, preferring the simplicity yet effectiveness of a dental solution.

Children can also suffer this condition, with their symptoms being less obvious due to their already shallower breathing. Symptoms to look out for include night sweats and bed-wetting, and if you re concerned then see your paediatrician immediately. The condition in kids can often be treated by correcting the tonsils or adenoids.

For more information see your GP or visit this page.

Dr Nima Ferdowsi graduated in Dental Science from the Adelaide University, in 2000. Nima is committed to continual advancement and development techniques in his area of special interests endodontics and respiratory sleep solutions for patients suffering from obstructive sleep disorders. Nima is a member of the Australian Endodontic Society and the Australasian Sleep Association.