Dentists on Wearside are set to get advice from one of the UK's leading experts in sleeping disorders over the coming weeks.
Dr Aditi Desai, who is president of the British Society of Dental Sleep Medicine, will speak at four seminars at Ashford Orthodontics' recently-opened facility in Southwick, Sunderland.
Dr Desai works with respiratory, chest and sleep physicians, ENT consultants, neurologists and psychologists helping to manage patients with snoring and sleep apnoea problems.
The seminars she will speak at have been arranged by Sean Thompson, director and founder of Ashford Orthodontics.
He said: "We’re delighted Dr Desai has agreed to come to Sunderland and speak to local and regional dentists about obstructive sleep apnoea, the disorder’s dangers and a solution to the problem."
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) occurs when there is a blockage of the airways during sleep, often caused by the tongue and soft tissue at the back of the throat relaxing, causing the narrowing or complete closure of air passage.
It can lead to heavy snoring, and can also wake people up many times a night, preventing them from falling into a deep sleep and stopping the body effectively healing itself.
Mr Thompson added: "If the airway completely closes during sleep, this prevents air coming into the body resulting in suffocation and causes the body to kick start into life again, and in some extreme cases this can happen 30 times an hour, with people waking up with a sudden start each time.
"This can lead to all sorts of health issues.
“It is conservatively estimated there are up to 3.8million undiagnosed sleep apnoea sufferers in the UK, many of whom may not be getting anywhere near enough good quality sleep.
"Because of their condition, they never go into a deep sleep and can therefore fall asleep at the drop of the hat during the day. Obviously, this can lead to major health problems.”
Dr Desai will explore these problems, which include hypertension, heart failure, cardiovascular disease, strokes and diabetes.
She will also introduce dentists to a proven solution for mild to moderate sleep apnoea in the form of the world’s first 3D printed device called the Narval CC.
Mr Thompson added: "These are very small, comfortable intra-oral devices which keep the lower jaw forward during sleep, solving most cases of OSA.
“These appliances are already used around the world, but are not common here in the UK, where the NHS treats the problem with much less comfortable face masks which need to be worn every night during sleep.”
The four seminars are being held at Ashford, based in Southwick Industrial Estate, today from 5.30pm to 8pm, tomorrow from 9am to 11.30am (already fully booked), Friday, November 18 from 5.30pm to 8pm and Saturday, November 19 from 9am to 11.30am.