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100,000 Irish people suffer from sleep apnoea

By Dental Tribune International
June 05, 2013

GALWAY, Ireland: An estimated number of 100,000 Irish people suffer from sleep apnoea, delegates recently reported at the annual conference of the Irish Dental Association in Galway. According to the researchers, the true figure could even be twice as high. One symptom of the chronic condition is bruxism.

Sleep apnoea occurs when the airway collapses and there is a cessation of airflow for 10 seconds. If this happens constantly during the night every night it prevents the person achieving the deep sleep required to function normally.

At the conference, an expert on the disorder told delegates that 90 per cent of those who suffer from sleep apnoea are undiagnosed.

Dr Michael McWeeney, consultant respiratory physician in Galway Clinic and the Bon Secours Hospital, said that the prevalence of the condition is rising in tandem with our increasing awareness.

“Overall, we believe the condition affects between 2.5 and 4 per cent of the population but because most people who suffer from it remain undiagnosed that figure may be a little on the conservative side. We are in an obesity epidemic and that increases the severity of apnoea. Poor muscle tone and alcohol consumption also increase the risk substantially.”

Dr Dermot Canavan, who specialises in the treatment of orofacial pain, pointed out that dentists are in a position to provide oral appliances that can be used in mild to moderate cases of sleep apnoea for patients who find a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine unsuitable.

Treatment for the condition may include lifestyle adjustments, such as losing weight or adjusting sleeping position, and the use of a CPAP machine or a device similar to a sport mouth guard called a mandibular advancement device, which can be made by a dentist.

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