Sleep apnea patients who have been dissatisfied with their CPAP treatment, or continuous positive airway pressure, are looking for different options to solve their sleep issues. Many turn to a dental solution hoping to find a less intrusive and more comfortable treatment. Although oral appliances may be the right choice for some patients, below are a few details you should know before receiving oral appliance therapy.
What is Oral Appliance Therapy?
Oral Appliance Therapy is used to treat patients who suffer from mild to moderate sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which an individual has one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while sleeping. An oral appliance is a small plastic tool that is placed in your mouth and resembles a sports guard or retainer. Its goal is to maintain an open and clear airway in the throat during sleep to allow for easier breathing. Our dentists will begin the process by selecting and fitting the custom-made oral appliance and determine which design is best suited for your specific needs.
Types of Oral Appliances
Oral appliances come in a diverse variety with a few major themes. They can be categorized by method of action or design variation. Almost all appliances fall into one of two categories, tongue retaining appliance and mandibular repositioning appliance. Tongue retaining appliances hold the tongue in a forward position using a suction tube. A mandibular repositioning appliance shifts the lower jaw in an extended position when sleeping. In addition, the appliance will hold the jaw in a stable position to avoid opening of the mouth.
The Use of an Oral Appliance
Once your oral appliance is properly fitted, it is ready to use. It’s normal to fee slightly uncomfortable, but they should never be painful. The progress of your jaw will steadily increase over a six month period. The oral appliance will pull your lower jaw forward gradually with little to no side effects. A sleep study with the oral appliance in place may be done in order to determine if the treatment is effective.
Advantages of Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea has many benefits. They are comfortable, easy to use, and quick to adapt to. It typically takes patients numerous nights of wearing a new oral appliance before they feel comfortable with it. If you are someone who often travels , these devices are small and easy to carry. In addition, oral appliance therapy is a non-intrusive substitute for surgery and has higher compliance rates than CPAP.
Oral Appliance Therapy Results
Most patients accept the devices very well and observe substantial improvements in snoring and sleep apnea. Research shows that oral appliances are efficient in treating snoring in 85-90% of the patients. The mandibular repositioning appliance works in managing the apnea levels in 75% of the patients with mild sleep apnea, 60% effective for patients with moderate sleep apnea, and 40% effective for patients with severe sleep apnea.
Possible Side Effects of Oral Appliance Therapy
Using oral appliance therapy may cause temporary side effects. These side effects may be evident during the first few weeks of treatment and may require a slight adjustment of the device. Side effects may include:
Tension in the jaw
Loosening of dental restorations
Change in bite
Slight movement of teeth
These complications can be diagnosed and managed by dentists trained in dental sleep medicine.
Going to the dentist can be a little bit frightening, especially for young children who don’t know what to expect. Though our dental care assistants and dentist work hard to inform all patients and make them comfortable, we do offer sedation dentistry services for our Salt Lake City clients. To schedule your first appointment with Avenues Dentistry today, call us at (801)-328-4173!