Sleep apnea is a severe sleep disorder in which you repeatedly stop and start breathing at night. You might have sleep apnea if you snore often and loudly and feel fatigued during the day, even after a full night’s sleep. One of the treatment options available is a dental appliance, also known as a mandibular advancement device.
Learn about the process of getting a dental appliance for sleep apnea and its benefits for your overall health.
Understanding Sleep Apnea and Its Dangers
Sleep apnea is commonly associated with systemic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other systemic health issues. There are various types of sleep apnea, but the most common is obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat fail to keep the airway open despite efforts to breathe.
What is a Dental Appliance for Sleep Apnea?
A dental appliance for sleep apnea is a custom-fitted oral device that supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway. These devices are similar to mouthguards or orthodontic retainers.
They are specifically designed to reduce the collapse of the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat, keeping the airway open during sleep and promoting adequate air intake.
The Process of Getting a Dental Appliance
Getting a dental appliance involves several key steps, from your first dentist appointment to the final fitting. The following overview will give you a clear picture of what to expect during this process.
Initial Consultation and Evaluation
The process begins with a consultation with a dentist with experience in sleep disorders and dental appliance therapy. They will evaluate your condition, possibly in coordination with a sleep physician, to determine the most suitable type of appliance and treatment plan.
You may need a clinical overnight sleep assessment where you’ll undergo a polysomnogram (PSG). This test electronically records your body’s activities while you sleep, including blood oxygen levels, heart rate, eye movements, and brain waves, to determine the severity of your sleep apnea.
Once you are deemed a good candidate, the dentist takes impressions of your teeth. These impressions are then used to create a model of your teeth, which helps technicians design the custom-fit device.
Smile On Dental Salon & Sleep Apnea Center offers three oral devices: the Somno Dent Oral Appliance, the Narval Mandibular Repositioning Device, and the Thornton Adjustable Positioner (TAP).
Fitting the Appliance
After the dental appliance is manufactured, you’ll have a fitting session. The dentist will adjust the device to maximize its comfort and effectiveness. They will also provide instructions on how to wear and care for the appliance.
Follow-up visits are critical. The dentist will need to monitor your progress and adjust the appliance to ensure it remains effective and comfortable.
Benefits of Using a Dental Appliance for Sleep Apnea
Using a dental appliance for sleep apnea offers numerous benefits over alternatives like the CPAP machine, including:
- Non-invasive. Dental appliances are less invasive than other treatments like CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines.
- Portability. They are small and portable, making them convenient for travel.
- Comfort. Many patients find them more comfortable to wear than a CPAP mask.
- Effectiveness. Dental appliances effectively reduce or eliminate snoring and improve sleep quality for many people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
Schedule Your Consultation Today
Dental appliances offer a promising solution to improve sleep quality and overall health for those with sleep apnea. It’s a relatively simple and comfortable treatment option that can positively impact your life.
If you think a dental appliance might be right for you, talk to a dentist specializing in sleep disorders to learn more about your options.