If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea – a condition in which relaxation of the muscles around the tongue and throat causes tissues to block the flow of air to your lungs while you sleep – there are several treatment options to discuss with your doctor. Two of the most widely used and effective are continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and a splint or mouth guard.
If you have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea and cannot tolerate or are not helped by CPAP, dental appliances may be an effective treatment option. These devices, which must be adjusted by a dentist or orthodontist and worn in the mouth at night, include:
Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD)
The mouth device most commonly used to treat sleep apnea, MADs are like a mouth guard used in sports. These devices attach to the upper and lower arches and have metal hinges that allow forward movement. Some, like the Thornton Adjustable Positioner (TAP), allow you to control the level of advancement.
Less commonly used than the MAD, this device is a fixed tongue brace to keep the airway open. For people with mild to moderate sleep apnea, especially those who sleep on their back or stomach, dental devices can improve sleep and reduce the frequency and intensity of sleep apnea. Also, people are more likely to use their braces more often than CPAP. Dental devices have also been shown to be able to manage long-term sleep apnea compared with uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), the standard surgical procedure for apnea in which surgeons remove the soft tissue from the back of the throat.
However, braces have some potential downsides, including impaired bite, tooth movement, pain, temporomandibular joint (TMJ), dry lips, and excessive salivation. If you wear pillows, you should start over to see if they’re working and have them checked periodically for adjustments or replacements. If you experience pain or a change in your bite, the dentist or orthodontist who fitted you can make modifications to correct the problem.
Dr. Montz, Dr. Maher, or Dr. Dunwody at Houston Sleep Solutions South will be able to help you determine if sleep apnea treatment is right for you. Contact us now.
Locations (Tap to open in Google Maps):
2443 S Galveston Ave
Pearland, Texas 77581
Pearland Phone: 832-895-5120
1769 S. Friendswood Dr. Ste 107
Friendswood, TX 77546
Friendswood Phone: 281-482-1275