Looking for answers to your Sleep Apnea? Unhappy with your CPAP and looking for easier ways to manage your snoring or Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Oral appliances an alternative to CPAP for people with mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea who either prefer oral appliances over continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), who are not good CPAP candidates, who do not respond well to CPAP, or who fail at attempts of treatment with behavioral changes like changing sleep position or losing weight.
The oral appliance is a small plastic piece that fits inside the mouth while you sleep, a bit like a mouth guard or retainer. They can help hold the tongue in place, along with the soft tissue in the throat, to keep the airway open while you sleep, helping you to breathe easy. Oral appliances can be used either alone, or in conjunction with CPAP or other treatments such as weight loss or surgery.
How to decide whether oral appliance may be a good option:
- People who either having snoring without sleep apnea, or mild obstructive sleep apnea who are not good candidates for, or who do not respond to, treatment with behavioral modifications like changing sleeping position or weight loss.
- People who have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea should try CPAP first. For these patients, oral appliances increase the effectiveness of CPAP.
- Oral appliances may be a good option for people who have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea who refuse or are cannot tolerate CPAP.
- They may also be a good option for people who have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea who refuse, do not respond to, or are not good candidates for such surgical treatments as tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, tracheostomy or craniofacial operations.
Therapy with Oral Appliances For Sleep Apnea
Therapy with oral appliances begins with choosing and fitting of an oral appliance that keep the airway open and unobstructed when sleeping. Over the counter devices are not recommended, as custom appliances have been shown to be much more effective.
A certified sleep specialist has to make the diagnosis and make a recommendation on the best option for treatment. A board certified dental sleep specialist is well-trained in oral appliances and familiar with how they are designed, how to fit them and will be able to follow up on how well they’re working.
The initial stage of therapy with oral appliances can take weeks or even months to finish. This stage include the exam, determining the best type of appliance, fitting and adapting the appliance.
Follow up care, both short and long term, is critical in the treatment of snoring and sleep apnea. During follow-up care, the specialist can assess your treatment and how well you are responding to your appliance as well as making sure it is comfortable and effective.
Reasons to consider oral appliances
- Appliances are comfortable. Most people become accustomed to the appliance in just a couple of weeks.
- Appliances are small and traveling with them is easy.
- Treatment is non-invasive.
Oral appliances work by:
- Shifting the tongue, lower jaw, uvula and soft palate to open the airway,
- Strengthening the muscles in the tongue, and
- Holding the tongue and lower jaw in place.
Types of Sleep Apnea Appliances
There are so many kinds of oral appliances available that selecting one can be confusing. Be assured that choosing is not as difficult as it seems. There are two major categories of appliances and all appliances are essentially just variations on a few ideas, and they are classified by either mechanism or by design.
Tongue Retaining Appliances
These types of appliances use a suction bulb to hold the tongue forward in the mouth. This prevents the back part of the tongue from collapsing and blocking the airway.
Mandibular Repositioning Appliances
This type of appliance shifts the lower jaw forward during sleep. Pulling the jaw forward pulls the tongue forward also and stimulates the tongue to make it stiff. This type of device also stabilizes the jaw and prevents the mouth from dropping open.
Other Options To Treat Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Besides oral appliances, there are a couple of other ways to manage snoring and apnea. First is behavioral changes, such as healthy sleep habits, changing sleeping position, exercise and losing weight. The most common treatment, and the one most people are familiar with, is CPAP. This machine forces a steady stream of air through a mask. When other options fail, an AADSM member who is trained in oral and maxillofacial surgery can remove excess tissue in the uvula, soft palate and other structures. More complicated surgery can be done to shift the entire anatomic structure of the mouth and surrounding facial bones.
To schedule a free consultation to review your Sleep Apnea treatment options, call (619) 640-5100.