Diagnosed with Sleep Apnea and not sure what to do next? Tired of your CPAP, and hoping that there are better and easier ways to deal with snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
What many people do not realize is that dentists can also help to treat Sleep Apnea, and oral appliances that can be offered by your dentist are a brilliant alternative to patients with mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea who are finding CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) to be a bad choice for them.
A small piece of plastic that fits inside your mouth when you go to bed, the oral appliance is a little like a mouth guard or a retainer. However, instead of protecting your teeth, the oral appliance works on keeping your tongue in one place, and this helps your body to naturally open up the airways in your throat, making breathing a lot easier. You can even use oral appliances with CPAP if you want.
An oral appliance may be a good treatment option for you if you have:
- Snoring without a diagnosis of Sleep Apnea, or mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and you have not responded well to traditional behavioral modification
- Moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and you want to increase the efficiency of your CPAP
- Moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and you cannot use CPAP for any reason
- Moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and surgical treatment options such as a tonsillectomy, tracheostomy, adenoidectomy, or craniofacial, cannot be performed
Therapy with Oral Appliances For Sleep Apnea
Oral appliances make it easier to breathe when asleep as it keeps the airways in your throat open and unobstructed, but that does not mean that you can buy one over the counter. You should always get one custom made for you, as it will work a lot better.
After a certified sleep specialist has diagnosed you with Sleep Apnea, they will then recommend you a treatment plan for your unique circumstances. You can then visit a dental sleep specialist who has a lot of knowledge about oral appliances, to see what you can work with.
Oral appliances are not a quick fix. It can take months in order to get the exact fit and features of the oral appliance to what you need, and this process will include examinations, choosing the type of appliance, and fitting it perfectly. Follow up appointments will see how well you are doing, and whether any slight changes need to be made.
Reasons to consider oral appliances
- Comfort – most people will not even notice their oral appliance after two weeks
- Small – perfect for taking with you when you travel
- Non-invasive – no surgery
Exactly what the oral appliance will do is:
- Move your tongue, uvula, soft palate, and lower jaw so that your airways stay open
- Strengthen your tongue muscles
- Keep your tongue and lower jaw in position
Types of Sleep Apnea Appliances
There are two main different types of oral appliance, and which one is the best fit for you will be decided on by your dentist after a full examination. Of course, there are more options within each category, but they are really just variations on a theme, and are classified as:
Tongue Retaining Appliances
These work similarly to a suction bulb in order to bring the tongue forward in the mouth, stopping the back of your mouth from closing up and blocking your airways.
Mandibular Retaining Appliances
These work by shifting your jaw forward while you are asleep, pulling the tongue forward with it and stabilising the jaw at an angle that keeps your throat open.
Other Options To Treat Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Oral appliances may be the best way to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea, but they are not the only way. Your sleep specialist will at first try to teach you behavioural changes, such as changing your diet, exercise regime, losing weight, and changing your sleeping position. The most frequently used treatment is CPAP, which is a machine that forces pressurised air into your mouth through a mask. When all of these options fail, however, it is also possible for surgery to remove excess tissue from parts of your mouth such as the uvula or the soft palate. In extreme cases, more radical surgery can be performed that would shift the whole jaw structure and facial bones.
For a free consultation about sleep apnea appliance options, call (619) 640-5100 today.