There are many dental appliances available for treating a wide range of issues and problems, many of which serve different functions and purposes. Granted, the term “dental device” may conjure up thoughts of orthodontic appliances such as braces or dentures. However, there are oral appliances that were specifically designed and developed for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and snoring.
How does an oral appliance for sleep apnea work?
If you’re familiar with the mouth guards that many athletes wear when playing sports, you’ll find that the oral appliances that are prescribed for sleep apnea patients are very similar in construction and appearance. This custom made device is soft, flexible, and is designed according to your bite impression which is taken by a dental sleep apnea specialist.
Although there are several styles available, the most commonly prescribed types are the mandibular advancement device and those that are tongue-retaining in nature:
- Mandibular advancement device (MAD) – This device opens your airway by moving your lower jaw forward and ahead of your upper jaw. Basically, it holds the collapsible part of your airway open by moving the airway muscles and tongue forward. It is the most commonly prescribed oral appliance by sleep apnea specialists in Los Angeles.
- Tongue-retaining device (TRD) – This device is similar to the MAD in that it holds the tongue in a forward position. But unlike the MAD, it doesn’t move the lower jaw. While the TRD has reduced the complications that occasionally occur with the MAD, it is less comfortable to wear for the first two to three weeks.
Both devices increase the size of the patient’s airway to prevent any complete or partial obstructions from occurring while they are sleeping. The bottom line is that it may be a small device, but it can make a huge difference in your breathing while you sleep and the quality of sleep that you get each night. You need it not just for your own need for better sleep, but for your partner’s too.
Reasons to Consider Getting an Oral Appliance for Sleep Apnea
Although there are several advantages for using an oral appliance to treat sleep apnea, these are the four most important ones to be concerned with:
- > Oral appliances are an effective alternative for CPAP therapy patients who find it too difficult to wear the device.
- > Oral appliances are non-invasive and require no surgical procedure to use them.
- > Oral appliances are not only easier to wear than CPAP or TRD devices, they can be conveniently packed away when traveling.
- > Oral appliances involve a shorter adjustment period and typically get used to wearing it within the first few nights.
Given the above reasons for using an oral appliance, it shouldn’t surprise you that over 80% of all patients who were prescribed an oral appliance by a dental sleep apnea specialist wear them nightly with no adverse side effects.