Oral appliance therapy is an alternative method of treatment for patients who suffer from mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea and cannot tolerate continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment. They are intended to keep airways open while a patient sleeps to relieve symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea or snoring. This form of treatment is most effective in patients who suffer from snoring or moderate sleep apnea. Those who suffer from severe obstructive sleep apnea should try CPAP treatment first for optimal effectiveness.
This form of treatment can come in over the counter devices or custom designed devices. Over the counter appliances have proven less effective and are primarily used as a trial or screening tool before working with a dentist to have a custom device developed. Over the counter and custom oral appliances come in two main varieties: mandibular advancement devices and tongue retaining devices. Tongue retaining devices use a pliable compartment to hold the tongue forward by suction. This device is usually best for patients who wear dentures or have trouble advancing their jaw; however, this device is not ideal for patients who struggle to breath through their nose.
Mandibular advancement devices fit snugly over upper and lower teeth to hold the jaw in a slightly advanced position. This advances the soft tissue and tongue inside the mouth to keep the airway open while a patient sleeps and restore normal breathing patterns. This device allows for comprehensive adjustment and improvement with dentist consultation. They contain an adjustment mechanism that allows the dentist and patient to work together to decide the best position of the bottom jaw to optimize the effectiveness of the device. The potential for continuous customization is a major benefit of this type of device. Mandibular advancement devices have proven effective in 75 percent of patients who suffer from mild sleep apnea and even 40 percent of patients who suffer from severe sleep apnea.
There are several advantages of choosing either type of oral appliance to treat your obstructive sleep apnea. These devices are small and much easier to wear than a traditional CPAP device. Although the evaluation period of oral appliance therapy may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, once you and your dentist have determined the best device and fit for you, it will only take a couple of weeks to become comfortable with wearing the device. These appliances are also conveniently sized. Not only are they easier to wear, but also easier to transport when you travel. This form of treatment is appealing to patients who are seeking a non-invasive way to sleep comfortably.
At Lynn Dental Care, we understand the importance of a good night’s sleep. If you are experiencing fatigue, inability to focus, short-term memory problems, frequent morning headaches, poor judgment, obesity, or snoring, you may be suffering from sleep apnea. Oral appliances may be just what you need. Contact Lynn Dental Care today and take the first step to giving your body and mind the rest that it deserves.