Oral Appliance Therapy
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, almost 25 million people are affected by a sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This condition is characterized by loud snoring, as well as gasping and snorting for air throughout the night. These signs of sleep apnea are due to breathing irregularities, in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. While there are more treatments available for this sleep disorder than ever before, dentists and other healthcare professionals are collaborating to provide even more. The team at Weissman Dental is proud to offer as many treatment options as possible to our patients with sleep apnea, including oral appliance therapy.
What Is Oral Appliance Therapy?
Dental sleep medicine is an area of specialization in dentistry that involves treating loud snoring and other effects of sleep apnea. Two other common side effects of OSA are dry mouth and teeth grinding, also known as bruxism. Dentists trained in dental sleep medicine collaborate with doctors and clinicians to create treatment plans that usually include oral appliance therapy. With this treatment approach, the patient wears an oral appliance while they sleep, which fits much like an orthodontic retainer or sports mouthguard. This removable appliance must be custom-fitted in order to prevent your airway from being obstructed while you sleep. However, we don’t recommend an over-the-counter oral device for the symptoms of sleep apnea.
Types of Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea
The two main dental appliances used for sleep apnea patients are tongue-retaining mouthguards and mandibular advancement devices (MADs). These devices are most often recommended along with CPAP therapy, which involves a machine that uses air pressure to also keep your airways open while you sleep. Tongue-retaining mouthpieces are typically used for patients with limited jaw flexibility. This type of oral appliance prevents your tongue from falling back in your mouth and blocking your airway. It works by fitting around your tongue and holding it in place with light suction. A mandibular advancement device resembles a sports mouthguard by fitting over your upper and lower arch of teeth. This oral appliance stabilizes your jaw and tongue in a forward position to keep the soft tissues from blocking your airway while you sleep.
How Do I Get an Oral Appliance for My Sleep Apnea?
The first step in successfully treating sleep apnea is to consult with your primary care physician and our dental professionals concerning your symptoms. Then, we will recommend a sleep study, either at home or in a clinic to confirm a diagnosis of sleep apnea. Finally, we will fit you with the recommended oral appliance.
Sleep quality has a great impact on your overall health and well-being. The effects of sleep apnea, such as loud snoring, dry mouth, and sleep deprivation can significantly decrease your quality of life. Persistent snoring is not something to be ignored as it can be a strong indicator of sleep apnea. The trained specialists at Weissman Dental are here to answer your questions regarding the signs of sleep apnea. Call us today at (503) 274-2222 to schedule a consultation.