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Wednesday, 24 May, 2000, 03:15 GMT 04:15 UK
Dentists urged to help snorers
Snoring operation
An operation is needed by some snorers
Dentists are being encouraged to fit a simple device - similar to a mouthguard - which can prevent snoring.

The British Dental Association (BDA) wants the profession and the public to be more aware of the treatment, which can provide instant relief for patients.



If you have a problem with snoring, don't just assume that nothing can be done, but seek help

Dr Jacinta Yeo, British Dental Association
Sufferers can wake themselves over 30 times a night, leading to fatigue, tension, lack of concentration and irritability.

Snoring, which affects 41% of men and 28% of women, is a sign of upper airway obstruction, and in some cases, people can stop breathing altogether for short periods - a condition known as sleep apnoea.

This can not only cause daytime tiredness, but also be potentially life-threatening. In extreme cases, obstruction of the upper airway can lead to cardiac arrhythmias - irregular heartbeat - high blood pressure and even death.

But a dentist can make a special appliance which pulls the lower jaw and tongue forward, so making more space at the back of the throat.

Vibrations

Other devices available lift the soft palate in the mouth to stop the vibrations which cause the noise made by snoring or use a type of suction to hold the tongue forward.

Dr Jacinta Yeo, of the BDA, said: "Snoring can be a simple problem - and a simple device, which is comfortable to wear, can help in a lot of cases.

"Research has shown that some devices can reduce snoring levels by half.

"The important thing is that if you have a problem with snoring, don't just assume that nothing can be done, but seek help."

A spokeswoman for the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association said the devices were "excellent if they are appropriate for your type of snoring".

But she warned that in cases where snoring is not tongue-based, they were "absolutely useless".

The association provides devices made in a set size which cost 50. Those tailor made for an individual patient can cost up to 1,000, she said.

She added: "Like any sort of doctor, they do not have that much training in snoring problems so the majority of dentists are not able to advise patients."

But some members of the profession were now taking an interest in the subject.

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See also:

20 Apr 98 | UK
Wake up to snoring
18 Jun 99 | Health
Step forward in snore war
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