Sleep apnea is an extremely common sleep disorder. In fact, approximately 20% of adults live with this condition, according to a study published in the American Medical Association Journal. In spite of it being so prevalent, many people live with this disorder for long periods of time without even knowing it is cause of their…
What Is the Experience of Oral Appliance Therapy for Sleep Apnea Like?
If you have sleep apnea, you likely use a CPAP. While CPAPs are effective, many people do not like to use them. They can be uncomfortable, and since they are bulky, the machines make travel difficult. If you do not like using a CPAP, you might be interested in oral appliance therapy. First, though, it is important to understand what you will experience when using an oral device.
Types of appliances
The experience of using a device partially depends on the type of device selected. Dentists offer two types of devices for sleep apneasleep apnea. People can choose from mandibular advancement devices (MADs) and tongue retaining mouthpieces.
Mandibular advancement devices
MADs look like mouthguards that are used in sports, but instead of sports, these devices treat sleep apnea. MADs snap over the dental arches and fit over the upper and lower teeth.
These devices open up the airways by pushing the tongue and lower jaw forward. MAPs are customized for each patient and can be adjusted if needed.
Tongue retaining mouthpieces
If the jaw cannot be repositioned, dentists will create a tongue retaining mouthpiece. These mouthpieces use suction to hold the tongue in place, so it does not restrict the airway. Tongue retaining mouthpieces can also be adjusted.
Using the device
Once the device is created, it is ready for use. People put the devices in their mouths before sleep. While each patient is different, many report the same experiences with using the device.
Many people report that these devices are more comfortable to use than CPAP masks. Since the devices fit directly into the mouth, many people state that they are easier to tolerate than bulky masks.
Sinuses and oral appliance therapy
Some patients complain that CPAPs dry out their sinus cavities due to the airflow coming in from the machine. Oral appliances do not blow air into the nose, so these devices do not dry out the sinuses.
Compliance for active movers
People who move a lot in their sleep have issues with CPAP compliance. It is easy to knock a hose loose or even remove the mask. Compliance is easier for active movers who use oral devices since there is less equipment.
Traveling with oral appliances
Traveling with an oral device is much easier than traveling with a CPAP. These devices are small enough to fit inside of a pocket, so people can take their devices on vacation without any issues.
Possible side effects
Some patients do experience mild side effects when using these devices to treat sleep apnea. Side effects include jaw and tooth soreness, dry mouth and excessive salivation. Patients should discuss the side effects with their dentists prior to undergoing treatment.
Getting an oral appliance
If you are interested in oral appliance therapy, your dentist can help. Your dentist will customize a device just for you. Then, your dentist will schedule follow-up appointments to ensure the device is working properly. With the proper device, you can finally get that restful sleep you crave.
Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Do I Have Sleep Apnea.
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