Category: Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Oral appliances – A treatment for sleep apnea

Sleep Apnea Disorder

Moderate and severe sleep apnea is treated using positive airway pressure machines such as CPAP. A CPAP mask is worn over the nose and mouth during sleep, which supplies pressurized air that flow into the patient’s throat.

The air pressure prevents the patient’s airway from collapsing. Aside from CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure, there are other machines that deliver the same effect such as BiPAP or bilevel positive airway pressure and VPAP or variable positive airway pressure.

Although they are helpful in the management of sleep apnea, a large number of sleep apnea patients are not comfortable using them. Fortunately, there are other methods of treating sleep apnea and one of them is wearing an oral/dental appliance. The Food and Drug Administration has approved over 100 oral appliances for the treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.

Oral appliances are worn in the mouth while you sleep. They hold the lower jaw forward to keep the airway open and prevent the tongue and muscles from obstructing the airway. The use of the oral appliance for the treatment and management of sleep apnea was approved by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The organization recommends the use of the oral appliance in patients with mild, moderate, and severe sleep apnea particularly in patients who cannot tolerate CPAP devices.

Why choose oral appliances over CPAP?

Sleep Apnea

They are comfortable and easy to wear.
They do not produce annoying sounds, which is one of the major concerns when using CPAP.
They are portable and convenient for travel.
They are easy to clean and maintain.

Should you go for over-the-counter oral appliance or custom made oral appliance?

There are readily available over-the-counter oral appliances at the leading drug stores and online stores. They are more affordable too when compared to the custom-fitted oral appliance. However, you have to keep in mind that an oral appliance that is not fitted properly may cause unwanted side effects. It may cause the teeth to move or might create jaw-related problems.

To get the most of what oral appliance has to offer, you should go for a custom-fitted oral appliance. Your primary care physician will schedule a sleep study to determine if you have a sleep apnea as well as its level of severity. After which, the dentist who is trained in dental sleep medicine will create the oral appliance and will also do the fitting.

Make sure that you choose the best dentist in town. Only a trained dental professional has the ability to help address your sleep apnea problem. The dentist will conduct a thorough evaluation of your teeth, mouth, as well as the temporomandibular joint.

This is to make sure that your teeth and jaw structure are fit to wear the appliance. Check with the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine the list of dentist who is trained to perform sleep apnea treatment using oral appliance. Oral appliances are generally covered by your health insurance plan. To be sure, you should contact your health insurance for an estimate of insurance coverage.

Dr. Avi Weisfogel – Expert

Dr. Avi Weisfogel is an expert in Dental Sleep Medicine and offers continuing education for dentists, the Dental Sleep MBA.  Contact Dr. Avi Weisfogel for more information here