Sleep Apnea & Oral Appliance Therapy
Have you been told that you snore loudly and are tired of sleeping in a separate room?
Are you tired of having little energy during the day after what should have been a good night’s sleep?
Do you suffer from sleep apnea and been unable to tolerate CPAP therapy?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may benefit from an oral sleep appliance. These plastic appliances fit over the teeth and reposition the lower jaw and/or tongue to open the airway and allow better breathing and quiet the noise from snoring.
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 (there are over eighty!).
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.
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.
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 commitment to the process of therapy.