Oral Appliance Therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Oral Appliance Therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Have you been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea? 936 million around the world are estimated to have obstructive sleep apnea. You are one of them too, but stop worrying about it. You can manage it well with appropriate lifestyle changes, oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea, and follow-up with the physician. Let’s understand what it is and what possible solutions are. 

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common condition in which your breathing stops and restarts often while you sleep. This can prevent your body from getting enough oxygen. You may want to talk to your physician if you are not getting a proper night’s sleep, sleepiness during the daytime, and gasping for breath during sleep. 

Types of sleep apnea?

There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the more common of the three. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the upper airway is partially or occluded during sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition usually common in obese people and patients with large tonsils or sinusitis. However, you can experience it even if you do not fall in the above category. In OSA, the upper airway constricts, reducing the airflow to your lungs or completely blocking it while you sleep.

As a result, such patients gasp for breath and snore loudly. It has multiple options, including a mouth appliance for sleep apnea and a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. 

Central sleep apnea

The central sleep apnea occurs due to a flaw in the central nervous system. The brain does not send signals to the muscles of the respiratory system and other systems that you need to breathe. As a result, the patient fails to breathe during sleep. An oral appliance for sleep apnea does not work in central sleep apnea. 

Central sleep apnea is commonly seen in people with central nervous system disorders, such as those who have had a stroke or suffer from neuromuscular diseases. It is also common in patients suffering from heart failure and other cardiac and pulmonary conditions. 

Mixed sleep apnea

Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea. However, this type is rare. 

Who gets Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Only about 2% of children have obstructive sleep apnea. It’s also more common in men than in women. Particular physical signs can be observed in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Such conditions include:

  • Heavyweight (obesity) 
  • Nose obstruction, defects in the palate, enlarged tonsils
  • Forward-placed lower jaw

What are the Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are most commonly noticed by people living with you under one roof. They observe changes in your sleeping pattern and regular activities, such as excessive drowsiness and fatigue during the daytime. The following are the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea:

  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
  • Waking up from sleep with a gasping or choking sensation
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon awakening
  • Intellectual impairment, such as trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, or irritability
  • Night sweats, sexual dysfunction, headaches, and symptoms in children such as poor school performance, sluggishness, unusual sleeping positions, excessive sweating, and learning/behavioral disorders.

What are the Effects of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

If left untreated, the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea mentioned above can aggravate. As a result, several health problems, including:

  • Cardiac diseases like hypertension, arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the muscle tissue of the heart), heart attack, and congestive heart failure.
  • Stroke and diabetes.
  • Furthermore, untreated sleep apnea may cause employment impairment, work-related accidents, motor vehicle crashes, and poor academic performance in kids and teenagers.

What if I have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Your doctor may recommend any existing treatment methods if you have been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The best method to manage OSA is often a noninvasive continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. For several reasons, CPAP may not work for you. 

If the CPAP machine is unsuitable for you or you do not prefer it, then you can use oral appliance therapy. It is a concept  similar to a mouthguard.

How does oral appliance therapy treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Oral appliance therapy includes a dental appliance or a mandibular advancement device. It prevents the tongue from obstructing the airway. This works by advancing the lower jaw or tongue while wearing the appliance. 

Patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea can wear it. A sleep specialist and a dentist with expertise in oral appliances can fabricate and provide you with a customized appliance for OSA.

How to get an oral appliance for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

The first step involves a mutual agreement between your dentist, physician, and you. All three need to be on the same page. The physician will evaluate your overall health, while your dentist will analyze your oral health. After taking the impression, the dentist will design the appliance.

The dentist will then guide you on how to clean and maintain the appliance. Once this is done, a sleep test is performed to check whether this appliance is working effectively or not. 

What are the risks of oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

The risks of oral appliance therapy include:

  • Bite changes
  • Pain in the jaw, teeth, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
  • Loose teeth
  • Excessive drooling or mouth dryness

What are the benefits of oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

This unique option appears to be very effective in relieving the symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) like daytime fatigue, mood changes, and snoring. It is an effective way out for individuals who have attempted and failed to cope with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) treatment. 

It offers greater convenience when traveling as well. This groundbreaking technology strengthens the OSA treatment and is user-adaptable, flexible, user-friendly and allowing people to manage their condition with less hassle.

Conclusion

Oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea has proved very effective and convenient. Patients find it difficult to use CPAP machines. It is less risky and more beneficial for the patients. 

Dr. Arthur Yeh and Associates are dental experts in Montclair, NJ. We will provide you with budget-friendly and long-lasting dental treatment. Please book your appointment today to avail yourself of our expert services. 

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