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Sleep Apnea/Oral Appliances


Woman covering ears while husband snoresSleep apnea is a condition where a person stops breathing at intervals throughout the night. The muscles around the tongue and throat relax while you are sleeping, causing the tissues to restrict air flow to the lungs.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), oral appliances, and mouth guards are commonly used for treating this ailment. Oral appliances are an efficient treatment option that can help you get rid of sleep apnea.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea


Sleep apnea is usually identified by a bed partner rather than the patient themselves. In fact, many people who suffer from the condition do not report any complaints while sleeping. Here are the most common symptoms of sleep apnea:
•  Daytime fatigue
•  Snoring
•  Night sweats
•  Restlessness during sleep
•  Headaches
•  Sore throat or dry mouth after waking up
•  Waking up suddenly while choking or gasping
•  Intellectual impairment, such as irritability, forgetfulness, or difficulty concentrating
•  Sexual dysfunction

Symptoms of sleep apnea among children may be even less noticeable. They include:
•  Daytime mouth breathing and trouble swallowing
•  Drowsiness or sluggishness
•  Unsatisfactory school performance
•  Excessive night time sweating
•  Bedwetting
•  Inward rib cage movement during inhalation
•  Behavioral or learning disorders

Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea


Before deciding the kind of treatment that should be administered, it is vital to figure out the severity of symptoms as it can have a direct impact upon the therapy chosen.

An oral dental appliance is best for treating mild to moderate sleep apnea. Oral appliances may also be used alongside CPAP devices to reduce high pressure requirements. Dental devices belong to two categories:

Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs)


MADs appear similar to orthodontic retainers or mouth guards. They are worn inside the mouth by enclosing the upper and lower dental arches. They consist of metal hinges to join the piece that fits over the upper teeth with the one that covers the lower teeth.

This device helps propel your lower jaw and tongue forward marginally, which prevents throat muscles and tissues from falling back to block the airways. MADs are generally adjustable, and enable your dentist to tweak the position of the jaw to increase effectiveness.

Tongue Retaining Devices


Tongue retaining devices are used less often than MAD. It consists of a splint that keeps the tongue in its position to let the airway stay open.

These devices are structured similar to MAD, except for the small portion that is made to enclose the tongue using suction to keep it towards the front. Tongue retaining devices are best for patients who cannot get their jaw repositioned forward.

Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy


Oral appliances are competent with treating sleep apnea and restoring normal breathing. Here are some of their benefits:
•  They are convenient to travel with.
•  Patients often find them more comfortable than CPAP masks.
•  Oral appliances are easy to care for.
•  There is no equipment that may get entangled at night, or that can get knocked off by patients who actively move during sleep.
Learn more about oral appliance therapy.

People who experience moderate sleep apnea and have failed at CPAP therapy are ideal candidates for oral appliance therapy. If you have trouble breathing while sleeping or notice your bed partner choking or gasping in their sleep, schedule an appointment with us at Roth Family Dentistry by calling us at 406-728-2745 today.
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