How Do Oral Appliances Work (Sleep Apnea)
At Shenandoah Family Dentistry we’ve treated many patients who have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This may be surprising to you because in the past positive airway (CPAP) pressure therapy was the most common treatment. Fortunately for those who struggled to remain compliant with this form of treatment, this is no longer the case, and we can step in to help. Whether it’s because you’re claustrophobic, have dry nasal passages, skin irritation from the mask, difficulty tolerating pressurized air, or would accidentally remove the mask while tossing at night, we may have an answer for you in the form of oral appliances.
What Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea Are
There are various appliances that can be used to treat sleep apnea today—including dentofacial orthopedics that opens your airway 10mm, Mandibular Repositioning devices, and tongue retaining devices. These are made from acrylic and fit right inside your mouth like an athletic mouthguard. There are also some devices that fit around your head and chin to adjust the position of your lower jaw. All these appliances are effective for treating mild through moderate cases of sleep apnea (suffering from 5–30 episodes per hour). These appliances may also work well for people who tried and failed CPAP therapy, or who were unsuccessful with or refused to have surgery (e.g., tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, craniofacial operations, tracheostomy).
There are two main categories these devices fall into. First, there are Mandibular advancement devices, otherwise known as MADs, which look like a sports mouthguard or even an orthodontic retainer. These snap over your upper teeth and have a metal hinge that connects it to your bottom teeth. When in place they’ll push your lower jaw and your tongue just a tiny bit forward, keeping your throat muscles and the surrounding tissues from falling back into your airway. By holding everything forward, you can breathe normally while asleep.
Secondly, there are mouthpieces that hold your tongue in place, that are like MADs but have a tiny compartment that holds your tongue. These use suction to hold your tongue forward, so it doesn’t collapse back into your airway.
Determining if This Treatment Will Work for You
It’s important to talk to us about whether you’re a good candidate for this treatment. If you haven’t already had a sleep study done to determine the severity of your symptoms, we’ll need for you to do so. Once we’re sure that one of these devices will work for you, we’ll determine what your best option is. From there we’ll create a custom mouthguard for your mouth.
These appliances are a great option because they’re more comfortable and tolerable than CPAP masks. They won’t give you a dry, itchy nose; tangle around you if you’re an active sleeper; and are much easier to travel with. So, when you’re tired of being tired all the time, give us a call at (540) 773-0011. Here at Shenandoah Family Dentistry, we can help you take back your life from the grips of this disorder. You owe this to yourself so reach out to us today.