Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

The Greek word “apnea” literally means “without breath.” Yet sleep apnea is very common. Left untreated, people with sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times a night and often for a minute or longer. With each apnea event, the brain briefly arouses the person in order for them to resume breathing, but consequently sleep is extremely fragmented and of poor quality.

When the tongue is causing restriction of the upper airway and preventing air from flowing, it is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is a common disorder that can develop into more severe respiratory or cardiovascular problems if left untreated. Symptoms of OSA include loud snoring, waking up to use the restroom frequently, feeling tired or falling asleep during the day, and being 30-plus pounds overweight with a large neck size.

Oral appliances are a frontline treatment for patients with mild to moderate OSA who prefer oral appliances to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) or who do not respond to CPAP, are not appropriate candidates for CPAP, or fail treatment attempts with CPAP or treatment with behavioral measures such as weight loss or sleep position change. This small plastic device fits in the mouth during sleep like a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer. Oral appliances help prevent 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. Oral appliances may be used alone or in combination with other treatments for sleep-related breathing disorders, such as weight management, surgery, or CPAP.

Advantages of oral appliances:

  • Oral appliances are comfortable and easy to wear. Most people find that it takes only a couple of weeks to become acclimated to wearing the appliance.
  • Oral appliances are small and convenient, making them easy to carry when traveling.
  • Treatment with oral appliances is reversible and noninvasive.

Oral appliance therapy involves the selection, fitting, and use of a specially designed oral appliance that maintains an open, unobstructed airway in the throat when worn during sleep. Custom-made oral appliances are proven to be more effective than over-the-counter devices, which are not recommended as a screening tool or as a therapeutic option.

Our office utilizes an Apnea Risk Evaluation System that allows the patient to have their sleep monitored in the comfort of their own bed! In most cases, there is no need for evaluation at a sleep clinic. Our dentists are familiar with the various designs of appliances and can help determine which is best suited for your specific needs.

Call today to schedule an assessment and determine if you could benefit from a snoring or sleep apnea appliance!

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