Sleep Apnea

sleep apnea

Don’t Let Snoring Ruin Your Relationship or a Good Night’s Sleep!

Did you know that you spend 33% of your life asleep? This means that the quality of your sleep has a tremendous impact on the quality of your daytime life. We all know that snoring is disruptive and even embarrassing at times, but did you know that snoring often indicates a far more serious problem? When loud snoring is interrupted by frequent episodes of totally obstructed breathing, it is known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). These episodes can reduce blood oxygen levels, causing the heart to pump harder.

Snoring Can be a Symptom of OSA

Snoring is a sound created by partial blockage of the airway. When you fall asleep, the muscles relax, including those that control your tongue and throat. The soft tissue at the back of your throat can sag, restricting the airway. Incoming air then makes the soft palate (tissue at the rear roof of the mouth), the uvula (flap of skin hanging from the palate), and the throat vibrate – this sound is what we call snoring.

Regular snoring is typically just an irritating noise. Loud snoring, however, may be a sign of a more serious problem… OSA.

What is OSA?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a breathing disorder, which occurs during sleep, due to the narrowing or total closure of the airway. OSA occurs when the airway becomes completely blocked and breathing stops. The brain then detects the lack of oxygen and prompts a momentary arousal to draw breath. Although OSA sufferers may experience hundreds of apnea episodes per night, they are unlikely to remember any of them. In fact, if the sufferer lives alone or sleeps separately, they may not be aware of their condition, even after many years.


It turns out that snoring and OSA are known to trigger very serious health problems:

  • 40% to 80% of stroke victims also suffer from OSA
  • People with OSA are four times more likely to have a heart attack
  • If you have OSA, you are twice as likely to die in your sleep, and seven times more likely to have a motor vehicle accident due to lack of sleep
  • OSA Patients are at a 40% greater risk of having depression
  • Individuals with OSA are also more likely to suffer from sexual impotence and develop diabetes

Don’t suffer any longer! Even if you have tried wearing a CPAP machine and found it uncomfortable and impossible to tolerate, we can now eliminate your snoring with a simple and comfortable mouth-guard appliance. Dr. Richard Carlson is a Qualified Dental Sleep Professional and a Somnomed® Preferred Dentist, and he can help you sleep more soundly using this revolutionary new technology!




What is the Somnomed MAS?

The Somnomed MAS is a custom-made medical device, designed to hold your lower jaw (mandible) forward while you sleep. This tightens the muscles of the upper airway to allow easier breathing. The Somnomed MAS is a type of oral appliance, a mandibular advancement splint, comprised of upper and lower dental plates with a unique patented fin coupling component, which allows normal mouth opening and closing. The device can be adjusted easily to achieve a comfortable fit. The Somnomed design has a number of key features which represent quantum improvements on existing MAS devices. These improvements make the device both more comfortable and effective. Somnomed is now recognized globally by an expanding group of sleep dentists as the Gold Standard in appliance therapy. It is used for the treatment of simple snoring, as well as obstructive sleep apnea.

When is it worn?

The Somnomed MAS is worn when you sleep. The device is very discrete, allowing you to close your lips so it’s not obvious that you are wearing it.

Is it comfortable?

You won’t find a more comfortable appliance! Why? Because it is custom made to fit your mouth and it does not impinge on your tongue. You can open and close your mouth normally as the Somnomed MAS does not lock or fix your jaws together (like other appliances).

What will the dentist do?

On your first visit, Dr. Carlson will thoroughly examine your teeth and mouth, and may use X-rays to confirm your oral health status, as well as ensuring that you are dentally appropriate for the device. Dr. Carlson may also recommend sending you for a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis. Dental impressions are required to fabricate a Somnomed MAS. Once we take your impressions, they are sent to the SomnoMed laboratory where your custom appliance is fabricated. Once your custom-made appliance is ready for you, it will be placed by Dr. Carlson, who will also show you how to place and remove it yourself, as well as how to clean and care for it.

What is an oral appliance?

An oral appliance is a small device, similar to an orthodontic retainer or an athletic mouth-guard. It is worn in the mouth during sleep to prevent the soft throat tissues from collapsing and obstructing the airway. Some appliances hold the lower jaw forward during sleep while others have direct effect on tongue position. Oral appliances relieve snoring and may treat OSA by realigning the jaw and/or tongue in relation to the head. Although oral appliances do not work on everybody, a well-made, well-fitted appliance may reduce or eliminate snoring, and may significantly relieve symptoms of OSA.

Are oral appliances effective?

Oral appliances were first utilized in the 1930s to help people breathe properly during sleep. By the 1980s, physicians and dentists began to seriously study the effectiveness of oral appliances to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea and found them to be effective in many, but not all cases. Recent studies show oral appliances to be effective in treating snoring and mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. The Somnomed MAS has also been shown to effectively treat severe obstructive sleep apnea in some cases. The Somnomed MAS is the only oral device to have TGA and FDA approval in Australia.

How effective is the Somnomed MAS?

One of the major advantages of the Somnomed MAS is improved patient compliance. The ability to freely open the mouth, speak and drink with the splint fitted is a quantum leap forward in this type of medical treatment. Ninety-five percent of patients with proven OSA stated they would like to continue using the Somnomed MAS, 83% of patients reported improvement in sleep quality with the Somnomed MAS, and 86% of patients reported nightly use of the Somnomed MAS.

Are all oral appliances the same?

No! There is a range of such devices available, some of which are not custom-made or adjustable. Most are either uncomfortable, ineffective or both. The unique design of the Somnomed MAS greatly enhances comfort, with clinical research backing its effectiveness.

What if I have a bridge or denture?

Patients with crowns or bridges can be successfully fitted with Somnomed MAS appliances. Adjustments are made in the appliance to ensure that fragile crowns and bridges are not harmed. Patients with crown and bridge work may prefer Somnomed MAS Flex that has a soft lining inside and is gentler for your teeth.

Sufficient healthy teeth are required in order to use an oral appliance. Most devices require at least 10 good teeth both upper and lower jaws. The Somnomed MAS appliances require fewer teeth to be effective. Patients with partial dentures may be successfully fitted with the Somnomed MAS, as long as there are sufficient teeth on the lower arch for optimal retention.

The MAS may be fitted over dental implants. We recommend, however, using Somnomed MAS Edentulous designed for patients with no upper teeth and made from either acrylic or flex. An edentulous upper splint covers the palate in the same way as a full upper denture secured by suction and made to oppose a lower splint. Due to the unique two-piece coupling mechanism, there is no downward pull on the upper splint. This advantage allows edentulous patients to enjoy the benefits of a Somnomed MAS. Please note, as a recommended minimum prerequisite for Somnomed MAS Edentulous, the patient should have six teeth in the lower jaw.

Can it be adjusted?

Absolutely! The Somnomed MAS features medical grade stainless steel screws on the side of the appliance to provide incremental levels of jaw advancement. This optimizes the effectiveness and comfort-level of treatment, as the jaw is moved only as far as required to alleviate snoring and OSA.

If you are interested in learning more about sleep apnea, or would like to determine if you are a good candidate for a snoring appliance, please contact us today to schedule an appointment.