Dentist serving Moonee Ponds and Sunbury explains sleep apnoea and the risk of dementia

Holistic dentist, Dr. Terry Rose, explains the link between sleep apnoea and risk of dementia.

IT sometimes seems that everyone you know is dealing with a family member’s diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Yet effective treatment appears to be on a far away horizon. Fortunately, new research indicates that a trip to the dentist could dramatically reduce risk of cognitive impairment. Dr. Terry Rose, a holistic dentist serving patients in the Moonee Ponds and Sunbury area, explains sleep apnoea and related the risk of dementia.

Understanding dementia

Dementia is not a specific disease, and it is not a normal part of the aging process. Rather the term describes progressive loss of brain function impairing:

  • Memory
  • Reasoning
  • Personality
  • Thought patterns
  • Speech

Dementia eventually interferes with normal daily activities, preventing independent living.

In Australia alone, nearly 350,000 people are living with the dementia, and it is a growing global epidemic affecting about 44 million people worldwide. While dementia occurs most frequently in those over the age of 65, symptoms may begin to appear as early as the patient’s 30s.

Dementia is the result of damage to brain cells. While there is still much to be learned about the root cause of the damage, we know that it can originate from injury or disease affecting brain tissues. Heredity, side effects of medications, excessive alcohol consumption, and poor nutrition may also play a role.

Recently, a study headed up by the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre reveals that oxygen deprivation could also be linked to dementia.

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About sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a serious medical condition with far-reaching health implications.

You may drift off to sleep normally, or automatically settle into a position with your head and neck in an awkward angle. Regardless, you take a few normal breaths. Then, as you relax, the tongue and oral soft tissues fall back, impeding the flow of air in and out of the lungs. Breathing becomes light and shallow, or it may cease completely for up to several minutes. During this period, oxygen saturation levels in the blood dive. As the brain is deprived of oxygen, it senses cause for alarm and responds with adrenalin. So you awaken with a start.

A person with severe sleep apnoea may experience 30 or more of these cycles PER HOUR.

The risk of dementia from sleep apnoea: Moonee Ponds and Sunbury dentist explains

Dr. Terry Rose, a holistic dentist

Each apoenic event places tremendous strain on the body, heart, and brain. The University of Sydney study indicates a link between oxygen deprivation and changes in the brain’s temporal lobes. About 75 percent of Australians over 65 years old suffer from sleep apnoea, so addressing this condition may be instrumental in reducing the tendency to develop dementia.

What are we to do with this new knowledge that sleep disordered breathing is a risk factor for dementia? Take steps to restore normal nighttime breathing before sleep apnoea has a chance to trigger cognitive decline!

The first step is to know the symptoms of sleep apnoea. Maybe you are not sure if you exhibit some of these symptoms, so ask your bedmate or download a sleep monitoring app on your phone.  We often recommend a free app called SnoreLab. Symptoms include:

  • Snoring, loud enough to wake yourself or disturb others in the household.
  • Periods of breathing cessation during sleep.
  • Frequent visits to the toilet overnight
  • Gasping or choking that wakes you up abruptly.
  • Insomnia.
  • Grinding your teeth
  • Sore throat or dry mouth in the morning.
  • Waking up with a headache.
  • Chronic migraines.
  • Daytime drowsiness.
  • Problems with attention, focus, and cognition.
  • Irritability.
  • Depression.
  • Obesity.

Next, get tested. Ask your physician to set up a sleep study or we can organise for you to take home a kit and perform a sleep study in your own home. A sleep study will determines if you have obstructive sleep apnoea and will rates the severity.

Dr. Terry Rose, a holistic dentist serving patients in the Moonee Ponds and Sunbury area, explains sleep apnoea and related the risk of dementia.

Now, schedule an appointment at Smile in Style in Moonee Ponds or Sunbury. The dentist will can fit  you with a mandibular advancement splint. This oral appliance is about the size of an orthodontic retainer. Just slip it into place before you fall asleep. It keeps the airway clear by slightly depressing the tongue, holding the teeth apart, and moving the jaw a bit forward. This treatment is a good choice for those who have difficulty tolerating a CPAP device. For the individual with severe sleep apnoea, it can be used in conjunction with CPAP for improved therapeutic results.

For some patients, another option may include Nightlase, a painless treatment where a Laser light is directed to the back of your throat.  This causes collagen regeneration which tightens the soft tissue to the back of the throat. The result is a reduction in snoring symptoms.

While we cannot guarantee the prevention of dementia with dental treatment for sleep apnoea, there is no downside to a good night’s sleep. Call Smile in Style in Moonee Ponds at 03 8400 4104 , or in Sunbury at 03 8001 6021 to talk with our highly trained Dentists about sleep apnoea.

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