Oral appliance therapy can be an effective treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea. It can help you get more restful sleep and improve the way you feel as well as your overall health.
In this blog, the sleep specialists at eos sleep explain what you need to know about oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common but potentially serious disorder in which you have repeated pauses in your breathing as you sleep. They may last anywhere from a few seconds in length to a few minutes, occurring repeatedly throughout the night.
As you stop and start breathing, your brain – as well as the rest of your body – is deprived of the oxygen it needs to function properly. As a result, you may experience the following sleep apnea symptoms:
- Feeling very tired and sleepy even after spending enough time in bed
- Chronic loud snoring
- Waking up with a sore or dry throat
- Morning headaches
- Changes in mood, concentration and/or memory
In addition, sleep apnea can increase your risk of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes.
What are oral appliances?
An oral appliance is a custom-fit plastic mouthpiece that’s similar to what you might wear when you’re playing sports. It’s worn only at night to help gently support your jaw in a forward position, which helps keep prevent your tongue and soft tissues in the back of your throat from blocking your upper airway. This is often an effective treatment for snoring and mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea.
An oral appliance can be used as an alternative for patients who find CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines to be too cumbersome and uncomfortable. In some cases, it can be used in conjunction with CPAP or other treatments for sleep apnea.
Different types of oral appliances are available to help address the issue that’s causing your airway to become blocked. The most common devices are the following:
- Tongue-retaining appliances – which hold the tongue forward to prevent it from obstructing your airway. They also help increase the airway space.
- Mandibular advancement devices – which gently coax the lower jaw and tongue forward to keep your airway open
How do they work?
An oral appliance is custom-made to fit you and then is worn only at night. By repositioning the tongue and jaw, it helps keep your airway open at night, alleviating snoring and sleep apnea.
They are made specifically for each patient out of BPA-free plastic based on digital or physical impressions and models of your teeth. After your appliance is properly fit and adjusted, you may also be scheduled for a sleep study to measure its effectiveness over time.
What are the benefits of oral appliance therapy?
Oral appliances provide patients with the following benefits:
- Effective in treating mild to moderate sleep apnea
- Easy to wear
- Small and easy to transport
- Easy to clean
Why should you see doctors for an oral appliance?
Our doctors are leading experts in providing a wide range of advanced treatments for sleep apnea. We’re board-certified ear, nose and throat doctors who specialize in treating snoring and sleep apnea. Our practice is dedicated to providing the least invasive, most effective form of treatment.
To find out more about oral appliance therapy, make an appointment today with eos sleep. Getting a correct diagnosis and an effective treatment plan from our sleep specialists is the first step toward sleeping well, feeling better, and improving your overall health.