Oral Appliance Therapy: Your Sleep Apnea Solution
In the past, there were only two main ways a person could have their sleep apnea treated. First, and still the most popular, is CPAP therapy, and other was surgery. For patients who don’t want to wear a loud, bulky air pump to bed every night or deal with invasive cranial surgery, there is now a third option being used by more and more people around the country: oral appliance therapy.
With oral appliance therapy, all a patient has to do to get relief from their sleep apnea symptoms is wear a custom-made mouthguard designed by a qualified sleep dentist to bed each night. It works by slightly shifting the jaw forward and keeping the tongue in a neutral position, preventing the airway from becoming obstructed throughout the night. In additional, it can also be used to help a patient stop snoring. If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are in need of treatment, read on below to learn how oral appliance therapy can help you finally get the rest you deserve.
Is Oral Appliance Therapy Right For Me?
Oral appliance therapy can be used to help a patient if:
- They are suffering from mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
- They have had surgery to improve their sleep apnea that did not achieve the desired result.
- A patient needs sleep apnea treatment and is CPAP intolerant.
- A patient snores and is at risk of developing sleep apnea in the future.
- A person with sleep apnea needs a more portable treatment.
- A patient could benefit from combined therapy.
How Oral Appliance Therapy Works
Oral appliance therapy actually works using the same principle as CPR: when the airway is obstructed, an easy way to clear it is by shifting the jaw forward. This is exactly what an oral appliance does. This small shift prevents the tissues in the mouth and throat from collapsing into the airway, enabling a patient to breathe normally throughout the night. Other oral appliances also keep the tongue in a neutral position as well.
While most patients find oral appliance therapy to be much more comfortable than a CPAP, a patient will still have a bit of an adjustment period once they start wearing their device to bed every night. This may include:
- Soreness in the jaw or changes in the jaw’s resting position
- Tender or sensitive teeth and soft tissue
- An increase or decrease in saliva production
- A feeling like the bite has shifted or changed
All of these side effect should subside with time, and if they don’t a patient can simply contact their dentist to have their appliance adjusted.
The Different Kinds of Oral Appliances
There are a variety of different oral appliances that our practice uses. They are all custom-made of high-quality materials and provide relief from obstructive sleep apnea, but each one has its own distinct specialty. When you come to see us, we’ll determine which one is best after a short exam. Nonetheless, we’ll make sure the fit is comfort and that it helps you sleep peacefully at night. To explore our options, simply click on the link below.
A Word from the AASM, AADSM, and the ASBA
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), and the American Sleep and Breathing Academy (ASBA) are each regulatory organizations that help set the standards of care for patient suffering from sleep apnea. They do this by offering continuing education, certifications, and training for both doctors and dentists who wish to become more familiar and adept at treating people with sleep apnea.
Dr. James Striebel is actually a member of the AADSM, which has given his direct access to resources and physicians who have decades of experience researching and refining sleep apnea treatments.
All three of these organizations have basic recommendations a patient should keep in mind if they are considering oral appliance therapy:
A patient with loud, chronic snoring who does NOT have sleep apnea should still seek out treatment. Left untreated, snoring can easily develop into a much more serious sleeping condition, and prevention using an oral appliance is an easy and effective measure to take.
- A patient should only use an oral appliance crafted by a certified sleep dentist like Dr. Striebel. While generic, store-bought appliances may provide temporary relief, they often cannot achieve the same results as a professionally-made appliance and tend to be more uncomfortable, which only leads to diminishing patient compliance.
- If a patient is unable to consistently use their CPAP due to frequent travel, they should ask their physician if oral appliance therapy would be a viable alternative, and these devices are much smaller and easier to travel with.
- After getting an oral appliance, a patient will need to regularly visit their sleep dentist for periodic checkups to reexamine the fit and effectiveness of the device.
- Once a patient has their oral appliances, they will need to undergo a sleep study in order to ensure that the device is providing relief from sleep apnea symptoms.
- Sleep apnea patients should stay in consistent communication with both their sleep doctor and sleep dentist to make sure their condition is always under control.
Oral appliance therapy has literally helped thousands of OSA sufferers get the rest they need without a CPAP or surgery. If this sounds like the perfect solution for you, please contact Better Sleep Appliances today for a consultation.