Why choose oral appliance therapy?
A custom oral appliance can stop snoring and save your life.
What You Need to Know About Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral Appliances are similar to an orthodontic appliance or sports mouth protector, but are worn during sleep and are specifically designed to provide adequate air intake and normal sleep in people who snore and have a medical condition known as obstructive sleep apnea.
Custom sleep apnea appliances must be fitted by a dentist specifically trained in oral appliance therapy, dental occlusion, and treatment of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
A sleep study must first be performed in order to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea, to ensure other sleep disorders are not at play, and to evaluate the effectiveness of oral appliance therapy. Treating just snoring with a custom oral appliance or snoring mouth guard can dangerously mask or worsen sleep apnea, even if snoring has stopped or significantly reduced.
After impressions of your teeth are taken, the custom oral appliance will fit your mouth and jaw securely and comfortably. Dr. Kempter with your sleep doctor will monitor your treatment and adjust the oral appliance until the snoring and excessive sleepiness has been reduced or eliminated, and the effectiveness of the oral appliance is verified by measuring your apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) during a follow-up sleep study.
How Do Oral Appliances Treat Sleep Apnea?
Oral appliances can be used alone or in conjunction with other means of therapy such as continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) to reduce snoring and treat obstructive sleep apnea by preventing the airway from collapsing.
If you have ever witnessed an apneic event first hand, you know it can be frightening to see a friend or loved one struggling to breathe while sleeping and then gasping for air as if they are suffocating. Apneic events in patients with obstructive sleep apnea are caused by the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat collapsing, causing "a cessation of airflow for 10 seconds or more.” An apneic’s bed partner may be relieved and try to fall asleep when the apneic briefly stops snoring, not realizing that those coveted moments of silence actually mean the person they are sleeping next to isn’t breathing.
Advantages of Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliances are comfortable and easy to wear. Most people find that it only takes a couple of days to become acclimated to wearing the appliance.
Oral appliances are small and convenient, making them easy to carry when traveling.
Treatment with oral appliances is reversible and non-invasive.
Types of Oral Appliances
There are over 100 custom oral appliances approved by the FDA. These appliances fall into two types of oral appliances for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea:
Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS)
Tongue Retaining Device
Mandibular Advancement Splints are by far the most common type on the market. They all function to reposition and maintain the lower jaw (mandible) forward in a protruded position during sleep. This serves to open the airway by indirectly pulling the tongue forward.
There are only a few tongue retaining devices available, but they have been well studied and shown to be effective in many patients. Tongue retainers function by directly holding the tongue in a forward position by means of a suction bulb that holds the tongue. When the tongue is in a forward position, the back of the tongue does not collapse during sleep and cannot obstruct the airway in the throat.