Snoring/Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Snoring/Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Obstructive breathing patterns during sleep can range from snoring to periods of true apnoea. This can lead to fatigue, daytime sleepiness, poor work performance and even cardiovascular disorders. Oral maxillofacial surgeons work together with other medical specialists to provide treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea.


Snoring during sleep may be a common trait amongst many of us but this may be a symptom of something more sinister known as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

With OSA, there are periods of complete obstruction (apnoea) of air flow to the lungs or partial obstruction (hypopnea) where the airflow is reduced. These obstructions result in reduction of oxygen taken up by the blood (oxygen desaturation) and leads to disruption to your sleep (sleep fragmentation).

OSA is characterised by loud snoring and this causes sleep disruption to your loved ones. Although mild OSA was not found to pose any documented health risk, moderate and severe OSA had been proven to increase the risks of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. In addition, sleep fragmentation often lead to excessive daytime sleepiness that causes reduced productivity at work and even falling asleep at the wheel, leading to increased risks of road traffic accidents.

Yes, children can suffer from OSA too. It is crucial to diagnose and treat these young patients early as OSA can result in poor physical development and inability to concentrate in school. It is important to note that many of these children suffering from OSA were misdiagnosed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

If you have loud snoring almost every night, awakening at nights, bed partners witnessing you choking or stop breathing when you sleep, you are likely to have OSA. If you experience some of these symptoms, please seek help with a doctor who can arrange a sleep study (overnight polysomnography) to ascertain your sleep condition.

It is a test carried out during your sleep to determine if you have a sleep disorder and the severity of the condition. There are different types of sleep study setups.

  • Level 1 study is a comprehensive study conducted in a sleep lab with a technician present during the study. This is the gold standard of all the sleep study setups.
  • Level 2 study replicates similar details to Level 1 study but it is carried out using a comprehensive portable device in the hospital ward or at the patient’s home.
  • Level 3 study is a more limited study of the above but is unable to monitor sleep staging or sleep disruption.
  • Level 4 study is a very limited (single to dual channel) study that is used mainly as a screening tool.

A trained specialist will be the best person to advise you on your treatment modality based on your condition. There are different types of treatment modalities depending on the severity of the condition and they can be divided into:

  • Conservative treatment: weight loss, sleep hygiene
  • Non-invasive treatment: Mouthguard (oral appliance), Face mask with Positive Airway Pressure (PAP)
  • Invasive treatment: soft tissue surgeries (nasal surgery, soft palate implant/reduction, adenoid and tonsil removal and tongue reduction) and hard tissue surgeries (chin and jaw advancement surgeries)