What is an oral appliance for sleep apnea?
If you’re one of the 18 million Americans who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, you know that a good night’s sleep is hard to come by. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep. These pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes and may occur up to 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again with a loud snort or choking sound.
Sleep apnea usually is diagnosed based on your medical and family history, a physical exam, and results from overnight sleep studies. Sleep studies measure how well you breathe while you are asleep. A diagnosis of OSA generally is made when one of these tests shows five or more episodes of obstruction per hour.
There are three types ofsleep apneatreatments:
1) Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP),
2) mandibular advancement devices (MADs), and
3) tongue-retaining devices (TRDs).
CPAP involves wearing a mask over your nose or mouth during sleep. The mask is attached to a small machine that delivers gentle air pressure to keep your upper airway passages open while you sleep. MADs and TRDs are two types of oral appliances that are used to treat mild to moderate cases of OSA. Both devices work by bringing the lower jaw forward slightly, which opens the space behind the tongue and prevents soft tissue from collapsing and blocking the airway during sleep.
How does an oral appliance for sleep apnea work?
An oral appliance is a device that you wear in your mouth while you sleep. It looks like a mouthguard or retainer and helps to keep your airway open. Sleep medicine specialists often prescribe oral appliance therapy for people with sleep disorders like sleep apnea.
Oral appliance therapy is a treatment option for snoring and mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. It involves wearing a custom-fit mouthpiece during sleep. The mouthpiece helps keep the airway open by bringing the lower jaw forward slightly or holding the tongue in place.
Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for many people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. In some cases, it can be just as effective as CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) at treating sleep apnea and reducing snoring.
If you have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend oral appliance therapy as a first-line treatment option. Oral appliance therapy is less invasive than surgery and has fewer side effects than CPAP.
To find an oral appliance that works best for you, consult with a sleep medicine specialist who can help you choose the right device and fit it properly.
Are there any side effects of using an oral appliance for sleep apnea?
There are a few potential side effects to using an oral appliance for sleep apnea. The most common is that your jaw may become sore from holding the appliance in place all night. You may also experience some drooling while you sleep. Some people find that their teeth become more sensitive or that their gums are irritated. In rare cases, people have reported experiencing headaches or dizziness from using an oral appliance for sleep apnea. Overall, the side effects of using an oral appliance for sleep apnea are relatively minor and most people find that they adjust to them quickly.
How do I know if an oral appliance for sleep apnea is right for me?
The decision to use an oral appliance for sleep apnea should be made by you and your sleep physician after a careful evaluation. There are many different types of appliances and your doctor will work with you to find the one that is best suited for you.
Your doctor will likely ask about your medical history and symptoms. Be prepared to answer questions about how often you snore, how sleepy you feel during the day, and whether you have ever been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Your doctor may also want to know if anyone in your family has sleep apnea.
Your doctor will also perform a physical examination. This will help rule out other causes of your symptoms, such as a deviated septum or allergies.
In addition, your doctor may order a sleep study. A sleep study can confirm whether or not you have sleep apnea and help determine the severity of your condition. If you do have sleep apnea, a sleep study can also help your doctor determine what type of appliance would be most effective for you.
Based on all of this information, your doctor will be able to determine if an oral appliance is right for you. If it is, they will work with you to find the right appliance and make sure it fits properly.