Learn more about Oral Appliance Therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Learn more about Oral Appliance Therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Person sleeping with a strained faceObstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a severe sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. It happens when the upper airway becomes frequently blocked during sleep, reducing or entirely stopping airflow. There are several types of sleep apnea, with OSA being the most common. Central Sleep Apnea, which is less frequent, occurs when the brain does not send correct signals to the muscles that control breathing. Due to multiple elongated pauses in breathing in people with obstructive sleep apnea, the body is depleted of oxygen supply, posing potentially serious health consequences. The irregular breathing lapses cause lower-quality sleep, and a feeling of tiredness can persist during the day.

Though more prevalent in men, sleep apnea can affect children and adults, and people of both sexes. It is one of the most common sleep disorders in the United States, affecting nearly 25 million adults.

Oral Appliance Therapy

The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine defines dental sleep medicine as an area of dental practice that focuses on using oral appliance therapy to treat sleep-disordered breathing, including snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Oral appliance therapy for OSA rendered by specialist dentists is a powerful treatment option for snoring and OSA. A custom-fit oral sleep appliance can enhance your sleep, cure your alertness, and restore your health. Oral appliances fit like an orthodontic retainer can in place inside the mouth during sleep. The device holds the jaw in a forward position to assist and maintain an open upper airway.

What are the benefits of oral appliances for sleep apnea treatment?

Most people breathe through their nose and mouth. However, some people with OSA breathe only through their mouth, or intermittently through their nose when they sleep. Mouth breathing typically happens when enlarged tonsils or adenoids, congestion, or a deviated septum blocks the nose. One of the first commonly recommended breathing-aid devices for sleep apnea has been the continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine. The device consists of a mask or nose piece attached to a hose from a machine delivering steady air pressure. Possibly because one has to be hooked up to a machine all night, or the mask they have to put on, a significant percentage of CPAP users can’t tolerate it.

Research has shown that oral appliance therapy is a life-changing treatment for sleep apnea. Suppose you have been diagnosed with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. In that case, an oral appliance can be a promising CPAP alternative and comfortable treatment option.

One of the main advantages of oral appliance therapy is the ease of use. There’s no bulky, noisy machine that compresses sleep movement or attachments to battle with while sleeping, like a CPAP machine that would require you to wear a mask during sleep.

Treating snoring with oral appliance therapy can make you feel like a new and different person. You will notice that your symptoms, and your quality of life, can dramatically improve dedication to your treatment and regular use of your oral appliance.

Oral appliance therapy is convenient, comfortable, portable, and doesn’t require much effort to put on. You will likely sleep soundly, have more energy, and feel livelier during the day. You may discover that your partner begins to sleep soundly, too!

How can a sleep apnea dentist help?

As OSA continues to present a growing threat to Americans’ health, the medical community works hand-in-hand to find treatment solutions.
If you have never had a medical evaluation done for sleep apnea, you are in safe hands with a sleep apnea dentist. Your dentist will refer you for a sleep study to determine the severity of your problem. A Sleep Study records the number of slow or stopped breathing episodes detected in an hour and helps determine whether oxygen levels in the blood are lower during these events.

Your sleep apnea dentist will conduct a complete clinical evaluation involving your teeth, mouth, and temporomandibular joints based on your sleep study results. The assessment will help to determine if you are a desirable candidate for a mandibular advancement device. You will also receive information on the potential side effects and the cost of therapy.

If you are a suitable candidate for an oral appliance, your dentist will create a prototype of your teeth. Professionals use these models to craft oral appliances that fit patients’ mouths. This proper fit is essential since the device will find usage while you are sleeping. An incorrectly supplied device can cause jaw damage or injury.

Tongue-retaining devices are rarer, but they’re appropriate for a broader range of mouths. These oral devices hold the patient’s tongue in a forward manner. As the tongue is attached to the lower jaw, this appliance also keeps the airway open.

While the devices may be uncomfortable and uneasy at first, many users should adjust and settle within a few days. Constant monitoring and continued use help oral appliance users get the best results.

You may require follow-up visits with your dentist to ensure the optimal fit for your oral appliance. Your dentist will monitor to ensure that the oral appliance is working well and improving your condition.

More often than not, your dentist will also schedule you for an annual assessment. These routine visits are an essential part of your long-term treatment success.

What are some dental devices sleep apnea dentists prescribe?

SomnoDent® Sleep Appliances
SomnoDent® sleep appliances are a family of oral devices that shift the jaw forward during sleep. One of the well-known devices is the SUAD™ that offers a unique design giving patients more tongue space. The design is highly beneficial for those with a sensitive gag reflex.

The Narval™ CC
The Narval device is a light oral appliance that expands the space behind your tongue by holding your jaw in a forward position during sleep.

The EMA (Elastic Mandibular Advancement)
The EMA keeps the mouth and throat open during sleep and allows for custom size and shape based on your mouth’s unique contours and characteristics.

The OASYS Herbst
The OASYS Oral appliance gives the dual benefit of a mouthpiece that opens up the throat and nasal dilators for widening the nasal passage.

Panthera D-SAD
The Panthera D-SAD, made of type 12 polyamide, which is resistant, biocompatible nylon, treats snoring and OSA.

Thornton Adjustable Positioner
The TAP 3 (Thornton Adjustable Positioner) is a custom made, 2-piece mandibular advancement device in which interchangeable hooks can permit certain types of bites and ensure comfort and effectiveness.

ProSomnus® MicrO2®
The ProSomnus MicrO2 advertises itself as utilizing modern clinical protocols, manufacturing technologies, and engineering concepts to resolve the design trade-offs that limit traditional OAT devices’ performance.

Most oral appliances allow the flexibility to speak and drink during use.

Sleep Apnea treatment at Grand Rapids from Midtowne Smiles

Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition requiring medical attention sooner rather than later. Dr. Burton is a sleep apnea specialist dedicated to helping you regain your restful sleep at night and better health during the day.

Dr. Burton can recommend the most suitable oral appliance for your condition. Suppose you have mild to moderate sleep apnea. In that case, oral appliance therapy can be highly effective, also help you avoid an uncomfortable CPAP mask.

Once your sleep apnea diagnosis receives confirmation with a sleep study, Dr. Burton can evaluate you and explore treatment options.

Call Midtowne Smiles today or complete our online appointment form to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Burton.