If you suffer from sleep apnea and are looking for an alternative to CPAP treatment, look no further than your dentist. Do dental appliances work for sleep apnea? According to an American Sleep Association report, it’s a “yes”:
“… dental appliances are becoming more common as new research solidifies their efficacy in treating mild-moderate sleep apnea and snoring. It is important to work with your doctor and dentist to find an appropriate device for you.”
What is sleep apnea?
If you suspect that you suffer from sleep apnea, your doctor will prescribe a sleep test to determine if this is the case.
People suffering from sleep apnea periodically stop breathing as the airways restrict during sleep and then begin breathing again with a loud gasp or snort, also referred to as a ‘resuscitative snort’. The patient may also sit up or move violently before falling back into a light sleep.
Severe grinding of teeth is also common in apnea cases, as the body attempts to keep the airway open. Naturally, this process of blocking and unblocking of the airway causes a significant disruption of sleep patterns leaving the patient feeling tired throughout the day.
How does the appliance work?
Sleep apnea oral appliances work by moving the jaw forward. This change to the posture of the mouth acts to increase the size of the upper airway and reduce air resistance that leads to sleep apnea and as an added bonus, sleep apnea mouth guards are anti-snoring devices as well! Opening the airways stops sleep apnea and reduces airway turbulence and stops snoring.
Benefits of dental appliances
Sleep apnea dental appliances are portable and easy for the patient to transport. The size of a mouth guard, they easily fit in your travel bag.
The biggest complaint from CPAP users is comfort. Dental appliances may take some time to get used to, but do not impact the patient’s sleep position or overall comfort.
Is there a downside to sleep apnea dental devices?
One of the downsides of sleep apnea dental devices is that they do not collect data in the way that CPAP machines do. Most modern CPAP machines have tracking software which shows the patient and healthcare providers the amount of hours of use and helps track respiratory events. There are, however, some new mouth devices that are made with technology that is able to measure hours of use. Also, the effects of sleep apnea, such as light sleep and daytime fatigue are often noticeable with either choice of treatment.
How does sleep apnea differ from snoring?
Snoring is caused by a reduced flow of air while sleeping, whereas in the case of sleep apnea breathing temporarily stops for a period of time. Read more about snoring in an article written by Dr. Larry Hill of Downtown Nanaimo Dental Group.
Can snoring be treated by a dental appliance?
If snoring is an issue, a sleep specialist will test you to determine whether or not sleep apnea is occurring. Dental sleep appliances can be used to treat snoring and are effective in the same way as with sleep apnea cases.
Downtown Nanaimo Dental Group in Nanaimo, BC, is proud to offer dental appliances and apnea appliances as an alternative to CPAP to treat sleep apnea as well as snoring and welcomes you to make an appointment for a consultation.