Oral Sleep Apnea Appliances
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Sleep-disordered breathing and sleep apnea are conditions where people breathe shallowly or completely stop breathing often during the night. It can happen often as a result of obstruction of their airway as the muscles of their tongue relax and fall backward, narrowing and closing off their throat. Episodes of this can last from a few seconds up to a minute until the lack of oxygen arouses the brain to awaken and start breathing again. This cycle can repeat anywhere from a few to many times per hour and contribute to serious health risks including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, strokes, depression, Type II diabetes, and obesity and increase the risks of drowsy driving and workplace accidents.
Poor sleep can also reduce the quality of life, making people and their sleep partners tired and irritable, making memory and concentration difficult, and contributing to erectile dysfunction, all of which strain relationships.
If you or your doctor suspect you may be suffering from a sleep breathing disorder, it may be recommended that you have a sleep study to determine whether you have sleep apnea or any other sleep disorders.
If mild to moderate sleep apnea is present, treatment options include oral sleep appliances or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. If people have more serious sleep apnea and are unable to adhere to CPAP therapy, an oral appliance may be an alternative that people can better tolerate. If no significant sleep apnea is present yet loud snoring persists and disrupts the sleep of other household members, an oral sleep appliance can quiet loud snoring.
What is an Oral Airway Appliance?
An oral appliance is a small acrylic device that fits over your upper and lower teeth (similar to an orthodontic retainer or mouthguard). This device slightly advances the lower jaw moving the base of the tongue forward to open the airway. This improves breathing and reduces or eliminates snoring and sleep apnea.
There are different types of oral appliances. Pre-fabricated non-custom oral appliances, tongue retaining devices, and custom-made mandibular advancement devices. Our practice provides custom-made mandibular advancement devices that are FDA-approved for the treatment of snoring and sleep apnea. Over-the-counter, pre-fabricated or “boil and bite” appliances are not recommended for the treatment of OSA.
Oral airway appliances, or oral sleep appliances as they are also called, are often more comfortable than a CPAP device as the user can sleep in any position without hoses and tubes attached. They are small and easily portable for travel or camping and quiet so your sleep partner will also enjoy a quiet night.
How Can I Get AN ORAL APPLIANCE?
If a sleep appliance has been recommended for you, your initial visit will be an evaluation of your teeth, jaws, and anatomy of your upper airway to determine if this would be a good option for you. If so and you choose to go ahead with treatment, follow-up adjustment, and testing will be done to ensure that the appliance is working effectively. As sleep apnea is a chronic condition, successful long-term management requires a commitment to the process of therapy.
Many medical insurance companies cover Oral Appliance therapy following a sleep study and diagnosis by a qualified physician. Our office will collect all the information required by insurance carriers, submit a claim, and advocate for you to receive your benefits.