Dental devices are thought to be a viable alternative to treating sleep apnea instead of using a CPAP machine. They’re also known as oral appliances or dental appliances and they are recognised by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine as an accepted treatment for sleep apnea.
Patients who want to use dental devices for treating sleep apnea will have to see an orthodontist before they get such a device to make sure that they are a candidate for being treated with an oral appliance. Not all people will be suitable for this sort of treatment, because their jaw may not be in the right place or their problems may not come from obstructions caused by the position of the jaw.
What Sorts of Dental Devices Are Available?
There are many devices on the market, but the most common are the Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) and the Tongue Retraining Device (TRD).
The mandibular advancement device is the most widely used dental device for treating sleep apnea. It looks similar in appearance to a sports mouth guard and it forces the lower jar downwards and forwards, which keeps the airways open.
The tongue retraining device is basically a splint that holds your tongue in place, stopping it falling into the back of your throat and obstructing your airways.
There are also numerous other devices that are available on the internet market which tend to be either an MAD or a TRD. One of the best devices available online is the TheraSnore mouth guard. It’s a self-fitting device and many users have complimented the cost of the mouth guard along with the comfort and the ease of use. It’s available to buy online from www.thera-snore.co.uk.
Treatment With a Dental Device
Dental appliances often have a life of up to two years, which makes them a cheap, long-lasting sleep apnea treatment.
Patients will be assessed after three months or so of treatment to see if the device is working for them. At this stage, if you’re seeing benefits of using an oral appliance, that’s a good indicator of long-term benefits. The device may need to be adjusted or replaced periodically so it’s important that you keep making appointments with your orthodontist.
Benefits of Using a Dental Device
There are numerous benefits to using a dental device and some of those benefits are listed below.
- A significant reduction in apnea and hypopnea episodes for those with mild to moderate sleep apnea, particularly if patients sleep on their back or on their stomach.
- Improved air flow.
- Improvement in quality of sleep.
- More comfort than using a CPAP device as the user is not attached to any machines, there are no wires or masks and the patient can roll over as desired without becoming tangled.
- Improvement and reduction in snoring episodes with most patients.
- Higher rates of compliance than with using a CPAP device.
Some of the main benefits for using a dental device are really that it’s far more comfortable than a CPAP machine. It’s also cheaper and if you’re using an MAD, over time, your jaw will be positioned in such a way that you will not need treatment anymore as your airways will be free from obstruction.
Cons of Using a Dental Device
Dental devices are not as successful in treating sleep apnea as a CPAP machine and they are not suitable for everyone. There are also a number of side effects associated with using a dental device, and these are listed below.
- Night-time pain, toothache and excessive salivation are all common side effects. These problems are usually mild but they can be severe and can cause patients to stop using their dental device.
- Permanent changes in the position of teeth, which is why it’s important to stay under the supervision of an orthodontist.