Dental Appliance for Sleep Apnea: Is It Effective?

Dental Appliance for Sleep Apnea: Is It Effective?

Aug 01, 2020

A severe sleep disorder known as sleep apnea affects many people causing them to snore and stop breathing because it is interrupted when they are sleeping. Affected individuals can stop breathing many times when sleeping and, in some cases, hundreds of times in the night.

Three types of sleep apnea are identified by the medical fraternity and are classified as obstructive, central, and mixed. The most common variety among the three is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when the upper airway is blocked partially or entirely when sleeping. During an episode of apnea, the chest muscles and diaphragm need to work harder to open the airway because of an increase in pressure. Breathing resumes with a loud gasp or body jerk, and these episodes interfere with sound sleep and the supply of oxygen to vital organs resulting in heart rhythm problems.

People affected by central sleep apnea do not have blockages with their airway. Still, their brain does not signal the muscles to breathe because of instability in the respiratory control center. Central sleep apnea is related to the functionality of the central nervous system and cannot be treated by the dental appliance for sleep apnea.

Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of the above disorders.

Who Gets Affected by Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Approximately 25 percent of men and 10 percent of women in America are affected by obstructive sleep apnea. This condition can affect people of all ages, including children. People over the age of 40 and obese are prone to this condition. Physical traits and clinical features are common in patients affected by OSA. They are usually excessively heavy, have a large neck, an overbite, and other issues affecting them.

The Causes of OSA

A blockage of the airway is the primary reason for OSA. The soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses when sleeping resulting in this condition. People affected by OSA do not recognize the situation themselves unless their bed partner informs them about the problem. Affected people do not have any complaints about their sleep but often suffer from restlessness when sleeping, snoring, and other symptoms that leave them tired and fatigued during the day.

What Are the Results of Not Treating OSA?

When OSA is left untreated, it can result in various health problems, including stroke, hypertension, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, diabetes, congestive heart failure, and heart attacks. Untreated OSA can also result in job impairment, work-related accidents as well as other issues.

What Can Affected People Do When Diagnosed with OSA?

Ignoring OSA is not an option available to people who are affected. They will have to seek a remedy either from their physician or dentist. Both professionals will initially refer them to a sleep medicine specialist for confirming the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. Diagnosing OSA is challenging, and people must undergo the polysomnography test, which requires them to contact a sleep clinic for an overnight stay with wires and tubes connected to the body and attempt to sleep. The alternative to the polysomnography test is the home sleep apnea test that is performed by physicians and cardiologists. After completing the diagnosis, the physician or dentist decides to offer different types of treatments to manage this condition.

Physicians offer the CPAP machine, which must be worn at night but is considered as the gold standard for treating OSA. Unfortunately, the CPAP machine does not work for everyone because of the discomfort it causes when sleeping.

An alternative option is the oral appliance therapy pioneered by dentists for patients with mild to moderate OSA. The oral appliance prevents the tongue from blocking the throat by advancing the lower jaw in a forward position. The device helps to keep the airway open when sleeping and is an effective method for treating obstructive sleep apnea. It is similar to a mouth guard used by sports persons but is not the stock variety, which is often used.

The dental appliance for sleep apnea is customized by a sleep medicine specialist and a dentist who specializes in oral appliances. It is recommended that people contact the dentist in Hazlett, NJ, at All Smiles Dental Care if they are diagnosed as victims of OSA because the dental appliance is not just comfortable to wear but will also relieve them from the problems of sleep apnea. Most importantly, it will allow them to have a good night’s rest and wake up in the morning feeling fresh to encounter any challenges throughout the day.

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