When you hear the term “dental appliance,” you may think of things like dentures, orthodontic appliances, or even mouth guards that prevent digestion at night. A lesser-known type of dental device is an oral device used to suppress the symptoms of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in a treatment called oral therapy. Here’s an overview of what a sleep apnea machine is, how it works, and why it’s a good option for patients with snoring or OSA, and always schedule an appointment with Houston Sleep Solutions for a complete assessment and treatment plan.
How does a dental device for sleep apnea work?
A good way to imagine how a sleep apnea device works is to imagine a soft, flexible mouth guard, like the one you can wear while playing contact sports. In terms of appearance, this is not far from what the oral sleep apnea machine looks like, although the devices have some technical features built into the ordinary mouth guard. Dental sleep apnea devices are custom-made and are based on mouth prints and bites taken by the dentist. They work by moving the jaw and/or tongue to dilate the airways and prevent blockages during sleep. The tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat are the two most common sources of airway obstruction, leading to snoring and sleep apnea. By stabilizing these tissues and moving the tongue forward in the mouth, you effectively create more space in the back of the throat for air to enter and exit.
Who is a good candidate for oral therapy?
If you are a person who has a chronic snoring problem or mild to moderate sleep apnea, you may be a good candidate for oral therapy using a dental device. Because the state of snoring and sleep apnea in each person’s dreams is unique, treatment must address the root cause or causes of your individual condition in order to be effective. A dental device for sleep apnea or snoring usually works best in patients whose airway obstruction is caused by the tongue and/or narrow airways. The best way to determine what is causing your condition is to be examined by a sleep specialist. A sleep apnea device can be used alone or in combination with other treatments for sleep-related respiratory disorders, such as CPAP therapy, weight management, or surgery.
What are the benefits of using a sleep apnea device?
There are many benefits to using this treatment option. Here are some basic reasons to choose a dental appliance to treat sleep apnea:
- Non-invasive – does not require surgery or an intensive treatment plan – from the initial consultation to the examination, the experience is simple
- No longer CPAP- an oral therapy device allows you to get rid of your CPAP device and all its unpleasant side effects
- Quick adjustment period-most patients get used to the device in the first week or two after use
- Easy to travel – the device is easy to use (worn just like a mouth guard), and due to its small size and design, it is easy to travel, unlike bulky CPAP machines with many components