While the most recommended treatment for patients with obstructive sleep apnea ( OSA) is continuous positive airway (CPAP) pressure therapy, not all patients are in a condition to remain consistent with this type of treatment. Some complain of claustrophobia, dry nasal passages, mask irritation of the eyes, difficulty in tolerating pressurized air, and unintentional loss of the mask while tossing at night.
An alternative to CPAP therapy may be prescribed for patients like these, and a replacement medication such as an oral dental appliance may be helpful depending on the level of severity of their condition.
Dental Devices for Sleep Apnea
A sleep analysis must first be done to assess the severity of one’s symptoms before any treatment options can be decided, since it can have a direct effect on the prescribed therapy.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices are the most common type of therapy which blast a constant stream of pressurized air into the respiratory system through a mask. As a first-line treatment choice, most sleep specialists will prescribe CPAP therapy for mild to extreme sleep apnea patients.
For mild to moderate sleep apnea, the preferred treatment is often a dental implant. It may also be advised that dental devices be worn in combination with a CPAP system to help lower high pressure requirements.
Mandibular Advancement Devices
Through opening up the jaw and keeping the tongue from falling down into the mouth, the purpose of dental devices is to keep the airways unobstructed. A mandibular advancement system (MAD) is one of the most common instruments used. Lower jaw means mandibular.
The system looks like a mouth guard, but it has custom springs and modifications that drive forward the lower jaw and tongue. This opens the mouth and airway in turn, keeping you breathing calmly through the night.
The symptoms are not only minimized by mandibular advancement devices, they also function to improve the muscles of the tongue and adjacent mouth muscles. The frequency of apnea continues to decrease as these muscles grow stronger.
Tongue Retaining Mouthpieces
This mouthpiece is simpler than an Insane, but a tradeoff exists. It looks a bit like a pacifier for adults. Nevertheless, it gets high marks from individuals who’ve experienced it, so many think it’s worth looking a little foolish in return for a full night of uninterrupted sleep.
By holding the tongue forward, a tongue retaining mouthpiece operates. Your tongue is inserted into the system and held in a prominent location, away from the back of your mouth.
Getting dental devices
To suit your specific needs, you will have to have your dentist make a custom fitted oral unit. 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.
Disadvantages of Oral Devices for Sleep Apnea
Some patients with sleep apnea who use mouthpieces for sleep apnea experience arthritis or arthralgia of the temporomandibular joint. Shortly after removing the implant, some experience an odd feeling in which they have trouble bringing their teeth together in the normal position. After repeated use, some patients experience teeth moving. To normalize the positioning of the teeth, orthodontic treatment is sometimes needed.
The challenge of tracking compliance is one of the complaints from individuals using a mouthpiece to treat sleep apnea. Most new CPAP devices have monitoring software that display the number of hours of use and the occurrence of persistent respiratory events to the patient and healthcare providers. Because of their scale, sleep apnea oral devices can not contain the same amount of technology as a CPAP system contains. However, with microchips, there are several newer sleep apnea mouthpieces that are able to monitor the number of hours of use.
Another reported issue with mouthpieces for sleep apnea is that they have a short life expectancy. They are not built for eternity. Before the materials fail and the appliances lose effectiveness, many are only useful for a year or two. If you want to use an oral sleep apnea system, you’re probably going to have to replace it periodically.
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!