There are a number of factors that can be related to snoring and sleep apnoea. Some of these factors can be interconnected. Therefore, it is always necessary to perform comprehensive evaluation and investigation for each suspect patient.
A sleep study can be quite useful in providing more information regarding the quality of sleep of each individual. Functional assessment of the muscles of the mouth and face is also important, to find out if there are dysfunctional related issues, such as mouth breathing, tongue tie, low muscle tone, airway obstructions, and others.
In children diagnosed with snoring and/or sleep apnoea, orofacial myofunctional pre-orthodontics and/or biobloc orthotropics may help to resolve the condition effectively. In adults, the management may need to be more involved, which may include the use of oral devices to translate the lower jaw forward, or even adult jaw expansion may be indicated. With extreme cases, the use of CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine may be the solution needed.
A number of research have shown that orofacial myofunctional therapy can significantly assist in improving snoring and sleep apnoea. The therapy involves exercises that strengthen the tones and postures of the muscles of the mouth and face, which can help in maintaining the patency of the upper airway that leads to healthier breathing and sleep.
At The Myofunctional Centre, we manage each patient with snoring and sleep apnoea in a collaborative approach. Besides one of our dentists and orofacial myofunctional therapists, the patient may also need to be assessed and managed by the sleep physician, the Ear Nose Throat (ENT) specialist, and the bodyworker (osteopath or chiropractor), as required.
Aren’t snoring and sleep apnoea the same?
No. Snoring indicates narrowing of the upper airway, resulting in audible abnormal noises coming from the nose and/or the mouth. Sleep apnoea means unhealthy temporary cessation of breathing. Both occur during sleep. If someone is snoring, there is a high risk of developing sleep apnoea
I have heard that using CPAP machine is the gold standard to treating sleep apnoea. Is this true?
According to the Sleep Foundation, medical doctors consider the use of CPAP machine to be the gold standard of treating sleep apnoea. This method can be very effective, especially for central sleep apnoea, but if the compliance level of actually using it is high. Often, patients do not find the machine comfortable to wear during sleep, because of how cumbersome and noisy it is. Custom made oral devices are commonly much easier to use and tolerate. Having orofacial myofunctional therapy as an adjunct can increase the success rate of the outcome even further.
How about mouth taping?
There are many people that tape their mouths during sleep. This practice can help to retrain the lips over time to maintain closure, encouraging nasal breathing. However, it is important to make sure that there is no nasal obstruction present. Taping the mouth with the presence of significant structural blockage in the nose may lead to adverse outcomes instead. Nevertheless, if mouth taping has been determined to be safe to do, there are many specifically designed mouth tapes available online. High quality ones are Sleepystrips and Myotapes.