Sleep apnea is no fun for the sufferer or for anyone within a five mile radius. Okay, so maybe we’re exaggerating just a bit, but those with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) tend to bring down the house with loud snoring, choking, and gasping for breath throughout the night. On top of being disruptive, OSA makes it difficult for sufferers to feel rested and refreshed, and is even a potentially life-threatening disorder. In order to remedy these issues, many dental experts recommend the use of various oral appliances.
Read on to learn more about this effective alternative treatment:
What are oral appliances?
Do you have a snoring or breathing problem throughout the night? If so, it’s because your airways aren’t remaining open enough during sleep. An oral appliance is specifically designed to address this issue. These devices look like the mouth guards that football players wear while out on the field. Instead of protecting your teeth and jaws, though, the oral appliance will work to position your lower law slightly forward of its normal rest position.
How do oral appliances work?
Not convinced that a slight jaw movement could actually provide positive results? Try this simple exercise: Start making a snoring sound right now. In the middle of doing so, thrust your jaw forward. What happened? The snoring sound will immediately stop. You simply cannot continue to make the sound while your jaw is in this position!
Is an oral appliance invasive or uncomfortable?
Not at all! Once you and your dentist have decided that an oral appliance is the right solution for you, a device will be specifically fitted to your mouth. Most users feel that the device is comfortable, and after a brief adjustment period, they say that it is virtually unnoticeable.
What are the advantages of oral appliances?
One of the greatest things about using an oral appliance is that you will begin to notice results right away. By repositioning the jaw, tongue, soft palate, and uvula, your lower jaw and tongue will both remain stabilized throughout the night, allowing for open air passageways and a more restful, complete sleep cycle. You’ll find yourself more energized throughout the day, and less likely to nod off unintentionally. Disturbances related to snoring and gasping will also be eliminated. These appliances are very small, making them convenient and easy to carry when you are traveling. And finally, the non-invasive approach to treatment with an oral appliance makes it completely reversible should you decide to go with another form of treatment.
Who should use oral appliances for OSA?
Whether your OSA is mild, moderate, or severe, an oral appliance could be the right solution for you. Typically, dentists will recommend the use of these devices to patients who:
1. Primarily snore and either don’t respond to or aren’t appropriate candidates for other treatment measures.
2. Patients who are intolerant to treatment with nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.
3. Patients who are not candidates for certain corrective operations.
4. Patients who do not respond to other methods of treatment.
After beginning to use your new oral appliance, be sure to monitor your progress. Should symptoms of breathing difficulties persist with or without the use of the appliance, be sure to notify your dentist immediately. You may initially feel some soreness or discomfort as your jaw and teeth adjust to the device, but if this discomfort persists, discuss the problem with your dentist. You may need to have the appliance re-fitted.