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Frequently Asked Questions

Man Sleeping

01

My partner often snores, but sometimes I hear him stop breathing and wakes with a loud snort.  He says he feels absolutely fine. Should he be screened?

Yes absolutely, snoring, gasping, snorting, and breathing pauses are red flags that a patient is at risk. Once thought to be harmless, we now know that snoring is an indication of airflow limitation, and the strong vibrations cause damage to soft tissues structures long term giving rise to higher risk for the development of a sleep breathing disorder.

A person with a sleep breathing condition may not report any symptoms at all, hence they often go undiagnosed for many years. Screening can be carried out quickly and inexpensively and will give both you and your bed partner peace of mind.

02

My child breathes through the mouth all the time, and has bad breath, is this something that can be treated?

One of the biggest clues that a child may have upper airway obstructions is mouth breathing. In children, this is usually due to over-growth of tonsils and adenoids.  Chronic mouth breathing has been shown to not only dry out the mouth and cause breath issues, but directly cause abnormal growth of the jaws and teeth which affects the development of facial features. Get them screened, diagnosed and treated early to prevent problems in adulthood.

Image by Annie Spratt
Girl Lying Down

03

I can hear my 5-year-old daughter snoring when we sleep together on holiday. Should I screen my child?

The ideal age to start screening typically would be 6-7 years old if your child is having symptoms such as snoring, heavy breathing, aggression, attention deficits, hyperactivity and bed-wetting.  Dental signs include mouth breathing, bad breath, grinding the teeth, crowded teeth or sticking out teeth, or developing a noticeable over bite or under bite. A single symptom such as bed wetting or hyper activity may arise for different reasons.  Assessment and screening for sleep breathing disorders will help to narrow down the possible causes, and lead to the correct diagnosis.  While it is important to rule out other medical causes, it is not impossible to have two conditions occurring at the same time.

04

I have difficulty getting to sleep at night, and once I sleep I keep waking up and it takes a long time to fall back to sleep. I feel tired and breathless in the day, sometimes my heart races, and feel like every night is a battle. 

Sleep and sleep breathing disorders can often give rise to insomnia, due to constant arousal from sleep, and urge to urinate in the night, usually around 2-3am in the morning. This often can result in an individual getting trapped in a cycle of poor sleep, or no sleep, followed by low energy in the day, needing to take naps in the day which leads to worsening inability to sleep at night.  Insomnia symptoms can occur with or without a concurrent sleep breathing disorder.  If you are struggling with your sleep, get screened to take the first steps to finding out the underlying cause of your condition.

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05

I have poor quality sleep and always wake up tired

Sleeping a full night (at least 8 hours) and still feeling unrested is not normal.  Some people are naturally short sleepers ie. they can get by with shorter hours of sleep. However they will feel normal and refreshed when they wake up. If you need to sleep for more than 8 hours to feel refreshed you may be a "long sleeper".  If you are not getting at least 7.5-8hours of sleep, you may be having insufficient sleep syndrome which is easily rectified by getting to bed earlier.  If there is no reasonable explanation for your tiredness, you should get yourself screened and potentially uncover a sleep or sleep breathing disorder.

06

I am a night owl who has to wake up early every day. I am permanently exhausted because I am unable to sleep early no matter what I do.

There is an online test to assess your chronotype, that is, whether you are a night owl or a morning lark (Eveningness or morningness type).  Why this is important, is because unfairly, the world is designed for morning larks - school and work schedules can often be daily struggle for sleep deprived night owls.  Studies have shown that night owls are more sensitive to blue light waves in the evening, compared to the morning larks! Which further delays the signal (melatonin) in our brains that it is night time.  Certain antidepressants (SSRIs) can also exacerbate this effect in night owls.  Ways to combat this would be to start dimming the lights 1-2hours before your intended bedtime, switch to warm light (LED lightbulbs are very rich in blue light), avoid reading from backlit devices in the evening, but if unavoidable, use blue light filters for your devices and reading glasses, and use an app that will switch to warm yellow based tones in the evening, or "Night shift mode" on iPhones for example.  Consider wearing eye shades if your sleeping environment is not dark enough and the use of weighted blankets.  If you have already done all of this, consider sleep screening to rule out an underlying sleep disorder.

Doctor with Files

07

What should I bring to my sleep screening appointment?

You will be asked to complete an online form before your visit. Please have digital or physical copies prepared of all of your current x-rays from your regular general dentist, as well as any sleep studies or reports from your sleep physician.  Please be prepared to clearly list your current medications, supplements and existing medical conditions. Bring any existing dental/oral appliances you are currently using, and also bring your bed partner if they are able to accompany you - often their input and observations are highly accurate and valuable!  If you prepare all of the above prior to your appointment it will help save time and expedite your treatment.

08

Is the sleep screening very expensive?

We have deliberately kept the cost for our patients low, to make it as accessible as possible to all patients, with or without private insurance plans. Given the importance of screening, we felt it was important to be as inclusive as possible, to allow patients to seek the help they require without being deterred by high cost.

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Talking on the Phone

09

Do I need a referral for sleep screening?

No, you can be self-referred. Just make an appointment for yourself asking for "sleep screening"

You may also be referred by your primary care doctor, dentist, psychologist/psychiatrist or speech pathologist.

10

I have already been diagnosed with OSA and have already tried CPAP and not using anything currently. What should I do next?

You should be assessed for your current condition, and explore what alternative treatments are appropriate for you.  Patients with OSA diagnosis should be treated and manage their OSA condition at all times. If one treatment does not suit or work for you, do not go without treatment at all, as you run the risk of developing one or more medical conditions as a consequence of insufficient oxygen at night.  You may ask your sleep physician for a letter of medical necessity to prescribe an oral appliance as an alternative if you are intolerant to CPAP therapy. Oral appliance therapy is accepted first line therapy for pure snoring cases, mild to moderate OSA, as well as for severe OSA which have failed to use CPAP, or for whom surgery is not an option.

Sleep App
Image by Adrian Swancar

11

I grind my teeth daily and my jaw is aching. What should I do? 

Bruxism, or tooth grinding is an increasingly common problem and puts patients at risk for cracks and fractures in the teeth. We have solutions to help you manage your condition to prevent the damage from continuing into the long term.

Botox is commonly used to alleviate tight jaw muscles, and patients often find great relief once the tension is alleviated.  Sleep bruxism is also commonly observed in those who have sleep breathing disorders, hence sleep screening is strongly advised for those who grind their teeth. 

12

I snore a lot, and I heard on social media that mouth taping is something I should do. Is this safe?

There is not a lot of evidence for mouth taping currently, and a lot of the recommendations are based on anecdotal evidence.   While it is true that nose breathing is more beneficial than mouth breathing, to force yourself to breathe through the nose while taping the mouth could potentially be unsafe, especially in individuals with poor nasal airflow.  

In patients with existing breathing conditions and sleep breathing issues such as OSA, this could worsen periods of oxygen desaturation.  It is definitely not advisable in children.  Please consult your sleep specialist before embarking on mouth taping as it is not a recognised mainstream treatment and there are no guidelines issued for its use.  For more information on mouth taping please visit the sleep foundation.org  https://www.sleepfoundation.org/snoring/mouth-taping-for-sleep

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