Is there such a thing a sleep apnea dental appliance? Have you been struggling with restless nights? Not getting a full night’s sleep? Talk to your dentist they may be able to help with a sleep apnea dental appliance. Snoring and disturbances of sleep are often a sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), and your dental health could be the reason. A dentist can often be the first person to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea and give you relief with a sleep apnea dental appliance.
Can A Sleep Apnea Dental Appliance Help?
Sleep apnea is a common but potentially serious condition in which breathing stops and starts up again for periods of 10-20 seconds while you sleep (this can go on 100’s times each night). Even though sleep apnea is very treatable, it very often goes undiagnosed by medical doctors.
Sleep Apnea affects approximately 18 million people in the United States alone and not even 10% ever get diagnosed properly. It is believed if sleep apnea is left untreated, it can take about 8-10 years off a person’s life span. A simple sleep apnea dental appliance can add years back to you life. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea.
This type of sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue in the back of your throat relaxes during sleep, causing a blockage of the airway. This in turn blocks the airflow into the lungs causing a cessation of breathing momentarily.
Obstructive sleep apnea is defined as five or more episodes of apnea (temporary absence of breathing) or hypopnea (diminished depth and rate of breathing) per hour of sleep (called apnea-hypopnea index or AHI) in individuals who have excessive daytime sleepiness. Patients with 15 or more episodes of apnea or hypopnea per hour of sleep are considered to have moderate sleep apnea.
If left undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea prevents you ever gaining a restful sleep necessary for your health. The recurring pauses in breathing shocks your body out of its natural sleep rhythms over and over again. This results in you tending to spend more time in light sleep and less time in the deep, restorative sleep you need to be full of energy, mentally sharp, and productive the following day. Sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose without medical help. This is because most sleep apnea symptoms occur during sleep.
Help is needed so ask a bed partner or record yourself during sleep. A common misconception is that everyone who snores has sleep apnea. This is not a hard and true fact.
Some recent clinical studies have also found that if you have snoring and grind your teeth than you likely have some form of apnea, so you should get checked by a medical doctor. So how do you tell the difference between common snoring and a more serious case of sleep apnea? The biggest marker is how you feel during the day.
The quality of your sleep is unaffected by “normal” snoring as much as sleep apnea does. So you would be less likely to suffer from sleepiness and fatigue during the day. Obviously, we will all have some restful nights. This would be more of a long term feeling day after day.
How Can Your Dentist Help With A Sleep Apnea Dental Appliance?
An official sleep apnea diagnosis is needed and must come from a medical doctor with the possibility of a visit to a sleep center. A dentist can fabricate a sleep apnea dental appliance which are used to reposition the tongue and lower jaw forward during sleep to maintain the open airway. Usually a sleep apnea dental appliance is recommended for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea patients.
A sleep apnea dental appliance can also be utilized in severe obstructive sleep apnea patients who cannot tolerate the use of a CPAP machines. The standard medical treatment right now is use of a CPAP (called a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). Approximately 25%-50% of sleep apnea patients do not regularly use or tolerate CPAP machines.
Some recent clinical studies have shown the use of a sleep apnea dental appliance to be the most effective in treating snoring and mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
Types Of Sleep Apnea Dental Appliance
Mandibular advancement device (also called MAD).
This is the most popular sleep apnea dental appliance prescribed for obstructive sleep apnea patients. This sleep apnea dental device is very similar in appearance to an athletic mouthguard. There is a hinge between the upper and lower part of the sleep apnea dental appliance allowing the lower jaw to be eased forward.
The Thornton Adjustable Positioner (TAP) is a sleep apnea dental appliance that allows further adjustments than most. This TAP sleep apnea dental appliance gives control over the degree of lower jaw advancement for even more comfort and control of obstructive sleep apnea.
Tongue Retaining Device (TRD).
Not as popular as the sleep apnea dental appliance above.
This device works by holding the tongue in place which ends up keeping the airway open. Ask your dentist which sleep apnea dental appliance is right for your particular case of obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Dental Appliance Conclusion
The best course of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea depends on many factors. These factors include the severity of your obstructive sleep apnea, the physical anatomical structure of your upper airway, other medical issues you may have, as well as a patient’s personal preferences. Choosing the right sleep apnea dental appliance is a very personalized decision.
Speak to your dentist about which sleep apnea dental appliance is right for you. There are proven scientific links between a lack of a good night’s sleep and a host of problematic symptoms including depression, memory loss, hypertension and weight gain. With the help of your dentist and a sleep apnea dental appliance, you can improve your sleep and your overall health!