Snoring and Sleep Apnoea
Snoring is caused by the partial obstruction of the airway at night. A significant dental factor that may cause this problem is an undershot jaw or a narrow upper jaw. At night the tongue has no place to fit so is closer to the back of the throat. With the partial blockage of the airway, the soft palate and soft flabbier parts of the throat vibrate as someone inhales - the result is snoring.
When we’re awake, our brain tells the muscles to pull harder to compensate for the blockage. It doesn’t do that when we sleep, so the throat stays narrow. Snoring is usually worse when sleeping on your back but can happen in any body position.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) happens when the airway becomes completely blocked or “obstructed”. People with sleep apnoea do snore but the deeper they breath the more obstructed the airway becomes until eventually they can't take in air at all. The brain wakes them up and gets them breathing again. They will wake up many times in the night and as a result can end the night still feeling tired and unrested.
OSA has many health complications. Gerry has spent three years studying at Tufts University Boston, USA, under the guidance of Dr Noshir Mehta completing his Master of Science through the Cranio Facial pain clinic. Sleep apnoea was an important part of his study.