Treating Sleep Apnea With Oral Appliances

Sleep apnea is a common disorder that affects millions of sufferers worldwide. It causes paused breathing or shallow breaths during sleep.

The disorder can lead to daytime sleepiness, snoring, headaches, and other health problems. If left untreated, sleep apnea can even increase the risk of serious conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cognitive impairment.

Here is a bit of information about sleep apnea and the oral appliances your dentist may offer to help treat it.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

One of the main causes of sleep apnea is the collapse of the soft tissues in the back of the throat, which blocks the airway and prevents normal breathing. This is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and it is more common in people who are overweight, have a large neck, or have a narrow jaw.

How Can Your Dentist Help Treat the Condition?

Your dentist can help with your sleep apnea by providing you with a custom-made oral appliance that fits over your teeth and gently moves your lower jaw forward. The repositioning of the jaw creates more space in your airway and prevents soft tissues from collapsing during sleep.

How Do Oral Appliances Compare to CPAP Machines?

Oral appliances are an alternative to the standard treatment for sleep apnea, which is a device called a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. The CPAP apparatus sends pressurized air through a mask. To prevent apnea episodes and keep your airway open, you wear the device over your mouth and nose as you sleep.

However, not everyone can tolerate a CPAP machine. Some people find it uncomfortable, noisy, or inconvenient to use. Others may have allergies, skin irritation, or claustrophobia from wearing the mask. In these cases, an oral appliance may be a better option.

Oral appliances are comfortable, discreet, and easy to use. They do not require electricity or batteries, and they are portable and travel-friendly. They also have fewer side effects than CPAP machines, which are associated with dry mouth, nasal congestion, and elevated ear pressure.

How Are Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea Made?

To get an oral appliance for your sleep apnea, you need to visit your dentist for a consultation and evaluation. Your dentist will examine your mouth and teeth, take impressions of your upper and lower jaws, and send them to a dental lab that will make your oral appliance.

Once it is ready, you will return to your dentist for a fitting and adjustment. Your dentist will also monitor your progress and make sure that your oral appliance is working well for you.

Contact a professional for more information about sleep apnea