Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition in which the muscles surrounding the throat and tongue become relaxed and block the airflow to the lungs during sleep. This can cause oxygen desaturation and sleep fragmentation. People with this disorder are often not able to function well during the day because of a severe lack of sleep. There is evidence that sleep apnea is linked to cardiovascular problems, hypertension, stroke and a higher risk of car accidents. Effective treatment has been clearly shown to improve the lifestyle of people who have sleep apnea.
There are several treatments for sleep apnea, but the most popular and widely used are a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device and mouth guards, which are dental appliances. Oral appliances are mainly used by people who have mild OSA and cannot use CPAP. They go into your mouth and change the position of your mouth, so air is not blocked. They can also be used to stop snoring.
Patients need to be fitted for an oral appliance by an orthodontist or a dentist. There is no one-size-fits-all appliance, and over-the-counter devices rarely work. People react to the devices differently, and the dentist who fitted the device should check it regularly to deal with any issues that arise. There may be some initial discomfort until the patient gets used to wearing it. The device is worn in the mouth during sleep. The most common devices are:
- Mandibular advancement device (MAD) is the most commonly used device. It is similar to a mouth guard that is used in contact sports and fits like an orthodontic retainer. It snaps over your upper and lower dental arches and has metal hinges that ease the lower jaw forward. The degree of advancement for the lower jaw can be controlled in some models.
- A tongue retaining device is less popular than a MAD device. It is a splint that holds the tongue in place and thereby keeping the air passage open.
Our dentist will determine the best treatment for you. Several factors need to be considered such as:
- The severity of the problem
- The patient’s general health
- The physical structure of the upper air passage
- The patient’s preference
Our dentist will take an impression of your teeth and make the appliance based on that impression. When it is fitted in your mouth, the dentist will make small adjustments to make it fit well. It can be fine-tuned over the first few weeks. It is comfortable, quiet, convenient for travel and easy to clean.
The plaque will build up on the device the same way it does on your teeth. You need to brush and floss your teeth before you put it in for the night. The device needs to be cleaned every day and kept away from pets and children.
People may not realize they have OSA but know they are unusually tired during the day. It is easy to treat with the right oral appliance, which will allow the patient to sleep through the night and wake up refreshed. We provide OSA dental appliances at Andover Smiles. Our dental team will be able to answer any questions or concerns you might have about dental appliances. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.