Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral Appliance Therapy is an option for patients with sleep apnea who only have mild symptoms, or who are finding the recommended treatment with CPAP difficult. At Southern Family Dental Care we have various solutions for snoring and sleep apnea which may be suitable for your specific problem.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that is characterized by the person intermittently stopping breathing throughout the night. It is caused when the airway is obstructed when the muscles in the throat and mouth relax during sleep and fall back blocking the upper airway. Although the episodes of not breathing tend to last for seconds, sufferers tend to gasp, choke, or snort as the lack of oxygen in the body causes the body to fight to resume breathing.
People with sleep apnea tend to snore very loudly, although not all loud snorers have sleep apnea. However, there are some serious side effects of sleep apnea to health, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and an increase in diabetes. Notwithstanding being tired and feeling excessively sleepy during the daytime, the accumulative effects of not sleeping may lead to poor performance, clumsiness, and mental health problems, such as depression.
Oral Treatments for Sleep Apnea
Our dentists can help with a range of treatments that can help you with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Treatments include a mandibular repositioning device or a tongue retaining device. Both treatments are custom-made to fit inside your mouth, rather like dental retainers or mouthguards that sportspeople wear.
A mandibular repositioning device fits over the upper and lower back teeth to push the jaw forward to stop the soft tissues from collapsing around the throat and blocking the airways. A tongue retaining mouthpiece fits over the teeth in the same way but uses a suction cup to hold the tongue forward.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Oral Appliance Therapy
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy (CPAP) is usually the recommended treatment modality for sleep apnea patients. However, some patients find it difficult to be compliant with the treatment.
The equipment in CPAP is bulky and involves wearing a mask during sleep. This is connected to a machine that delivers pressurized air through the airway, keeping it open to aid breathing and sleep quality. Some people find wearing the mask and hose uncomfortable, becoming entangled with it or dislodging it while they sleep. Others complain that the constant air pressure has a drying effect on the mouth, nose, and sinuses, while the noise and bulkiness of the equipment are also off-putting.
Compared to CPAP, oral appliances have none of these issues. They are portable; there are no masks or hoses to become entangled with and there is no noisy machinery involved with them.
This does not mean oral appliances are entirely without any problems. They may cause excessive salivation, or dryness of mouth, soreness in the gums, jaw, or teeth, and loosening of dental restorations, such as bridges or crowns. However, for many people, these are minor issues they can live with for the sake of a good night’s sleep.
Consult one of our expert dentists at Southern Family Dental Care who are skilled in sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and snoring to see if oral appliance therapy may benefit you. Call us at 470-410-9774.