Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when breathing is interrupted during sleep. Typically, sleep apnea is caused by an obstruction in the airway. This obstruction can cause pauses in breathing that last from a few seconds to minutes. Sleep apnea can lead to other health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Untreated sleep apnea can even increase the risk of a car accident. There are many treatment options available for sleep apnea. Custom-fitted oral appliances can help reduce the severity of sleep apnea. The device keeps the airway open during sleep, so it doesn’t collapse and cause apnea.
What is a Sleep Apnea Appliance?
When adults and children are affected by obstructive sleep apnea, a dentist might recommend a custom-fitted oral appliance to reduce or eliminate symptoms. These appliances work by repositioning the lower jaw slightly forward in order to keep the mouth closed while sleeping. This helps to prevent the tongue from falling back and blocking the throat, which can alleviate snoring and mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea.
Custom-fitted devices can prevent the jaw from moving backward, which can help prevent more severe symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. These devices are usually made out of soft plastic and are comfortable to wear. Most patients find that they only need to wear them at night to provide relief from their symptoms. They are generally effective and can minimize or even eliminate snoring. Some appliances are designed with hinges or clasps to keep the device on the patient’s teeth, while others are meant to be worn similarly to a retainer. The devices are custom-made to fit the patient’s mouth and teeth and can easily be adjusted over time if new adjustments are required.
An intraoral device, such as a mandibular repositioning device, is similar to an athletic mouth guard in concept. Mouth guards are custom-fitted appliances that you wear over your teeth while you play sports to prevent damage from injuries or collisions. Similarly, an intraoral device is worn at night to keep the airway open and maintain an open upper airway during sleep so that you can breathe more easily throughout the night.
Tongue Retaining Devices
These appliances are placed in your mouth to keep your tongue from blocking your airway while you sleep. They are typically made of plastic or acrylic and are custom fitted for your mouth by your dentist. The most common type of device is called an orthotic device since it keeps your jaw forward in a slightly protruded position to help your airway stay open throughout the night. These devices are most commonly used to treat mild cases of sleep apnea.
Some patients find these devices to be uncomfortable, especially for snoring and dry mouth at night. However, newer models are smaller and less bulky, which can cause less discomfort to the wearer. Your dentist can help you decide whether this type of device is a good fit for you.
To find out more about the dental services offered by our dentist Alicia Abeyta, call (505)-293-7611 or schedule an online consultation. You can also visit us at 4830 Juan Tabo Blvd. NE, Ste. K, Albuquerque, NM, 87111.