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Do Mouth Appliances Work For Sleep Apnea?

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There are a variety of treatment options to explore with your doctor if you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea — a condition in which relaxation of the muscles around the tongue and throat allows the tissues to block airflow to the lungs while you sleep. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and dental appliances, or mouth guards, are two of the most commonly used and most effective.

There are two major categories of dental devices:

Mandibular advancement devices (MADs)

MADs used to treat sleep apnea appear very similar to orthodontic retainers or sports mouthguards. By snapping across the upper and lower dental arches, they fit into the mouth and have metal hinges connecting the two parts: one fits over the upper teeth, and the other fits over the lower teeth.

MADs operate by gently moving the lower jaw and tongue forward, helping to keep the muscles of the throat and problems (such as the pharynx) from falling back into the airways, facilitating regular breathing during sleep. For optimum effectiveness, most MADs are flexible, enabling dentists to fine-tune the position of the jaw.

Tongue Retaining Mouthpieces

In construction, tongue retaining mouthpieces are identical to the Insane, but have a tiny pocket that wraps around the tongue using suction to pull it forward, keeping it from dropping back into the airway. These devices are often used in patients who are unable to get their jaw repositioned forward correctly.

You would have to make a custom fitted oral system for your dentist to meet your personal needs. Options for over-the-counter are available, but not recommended. Due to their reduced cost, over-the-counter products can be enticing, but may potentially complicate sleep apnea. Many patients who order oral devices without consulting a dentist found that their signs of snoring went away, but were unaware that apnea incidents leading to problems down the road were not avoided as only the symptom of snoring was avoided, but the condition itself was not.

Dental devices can improve sleep and decrease the frequency and loudness of snoring for people with mild to moderate sleep apnea, particularly those who sleep on their backs or stomachs. Individuals are therefore more likely to regularly use their dental appliances than CPAP.

Compared with uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), the normal surgical treatment for apnea in which the surgeon extracts soft tissue from the back of the throat, dental implants have also been shown to control sleep apnea in the long term. Dental devices, however, have some possible disadvantages, including altered bite, teeth movement, discomfort, temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) arthritis, dry lips, and excessive salivation.

You should have a checkup early on if you are equipped with a dental system to see if it is functioning and occasional checkups for potential adaptation or replacement. Your dentist or orthodontist who has installed your system can be able to make adjustments to fix the problem if you encounter discomfort or changes in your bite.

A variety of factors depend on the best treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, including the nature of your condition, the physical structure of your upper airway, any medical conditions you might have, as well as your personal preference. To choose the right treatment plan for you, you can consult with your doctor or sleep specialist.

What are the risks of oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

The risks of oral appliance therapy include:

  • Bite changes

  • Pain in the jaw, teeth, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain

  • Loose teeth

  • A need for dental work replacement

  • Excessive drooling

  • Mouth dryness

What are the benefits of oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Oral appliance therapy:

  • Can improve symptoms of OSA, including daytime sleepiness, moodiness, concentration issues and reduce or eliminate snoring.

  • Offers another option for people who cannot tolerate CPAP

  • Is easier to take along when traveling

  • Works without electricity

  • Is quiet

Are You Looking for a Sleep Apnea Specialist You Can Trust?

With over 30 years of professional experience helping patients renew and beautifying their smiles, Balfour Dental continues to be the preferred dental office for families in Brentwood California and the surrounding communities of Antioch, Oakley, Discovery Bay and beyond. Dr. Rayani and Dr. Siao both have many different certifications, including Invisalign Certification, Implant Dentistry, Sleep Apnea Treatment, Cerec CAD-CAM Restorations, Neuromuscular Dentistry, and Implants respectively. Our dental office is locally owned and operated by Dr. Dimple Rayani and Dr. Sien Siao, two professionals with vast experience in Implant Retained Denture treatments as well as in general dentistry.  If you are looking to renew your smile, contact Balfour Dental today!

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