It may be surprising to some, but did you know your dentist can actually help with sleep apnea? The dentist is able to prescribe and fit you for a special oral appliance that can assist with proper airflow throughout the night. Here is what you should know about these devices.
Obstructive sleep apnea is when you stop breathing for at least 10 seconds in your sleep on a regular basis. The severity of sleep apnea depends on how often you stop breathing in the duration of an hour. Snoring can be a sign of partial sleep apnea; so are gasps and chokes when breathing is resumed. The cessation of breath is due to the muscles in the throat and mouth relaxing to the point where they restrict the airway. Along with constant fatigue from a lack of proper sleep, sleep apnea can lead to long-term complications such as cardiac issues and strokes.
The purpose of oral appliances is to help prevent sleep apnea through placement in the mouth. Thanks to mandibular advancement devices and tongue retaining mouthpieces, oral appliances are a step down from having to use advanced equipment to treat sleep apnea.
Mandibular advancement device
Similar to orthodontic retainers, the mandibular advancement device (MAD) fits over the lower and upper teeth and is connected by hinges. The jaw and tongue are moved and kept forward by the MAD so that during the night the airway and airflow are never restricted.
Tongue retaining mouthpiece
These are built similar to the MADs but are kept in place via suction from a compartment around the tongue that keeps it forward. With the tongue retaining mouthpiece, the jaw is not kept forward for those who are unable to have their jaw do so.
The oral appliances used to treat sleep apnea do have some drawbacks and possible complications that need to be watched for and discussed with your dentist before using the appliance. They include the following:
Oral appliances require a proper fitting in order to be effective for sleep apnea treatment, but they are simple and effective devices. Frequent visits with your dentist for any fitting changes as well as monitoring the effectiveness of your oral appliance can help you find the right fit to aid you in your sleep therapy. You do not need to suffer through sleep apnea affects when your dentist can help you with a simple device.
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Roy B. Guster DDS PC
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