Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that is often chronic. It causes breathing to stop and start during sleep. The symptoms of the disorder involve snoring, feeling tired during the day, and waking up short of breath at night. Sleep apnea keeps the brain and body from getting adequate oxygen, leading to high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, diabetes, depression, and poor concentration.
Sleep apnea, however, is highly treatable with personalized oral appliances. These are worn in the mouth during sleep to keep the tongue from collapsing and blocking the airway. This helps the patient get maximal oxygen intake. The custom-made appliance is made to fit the patient’s mouth. It acts to reposition the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate, and uvula, which in turn helps stabilize the tongue and tone its muscles.
These appliances mainly come in two different forms: tongue retaining appliance or mandibular repositioning appliance. The tongue retaining appliance uses a suction bulb to keep the tongue forward, keeping it from obstructing the airway during sleep. The mandibular repositioning appliance makes the lower jaw protrude forward during sleep, and this pulls the tongue forward away from the airway.
Oral appliances are a great way to treat sleep apnea. They are comfortable and easy to wear. They are small, making them easy to store and transport; treatment is all from home. They are much more beneficial in treating the disorder than over-the-counter appliances because they are personalized to fit the mouth and needs of each patient.
Oral appliances have been proven to be very valuable in treating sleep apnea, and have helped control the disorder for as many as half of all patients, including those who have severe cases of sleep apnea. While CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is an alternative to oral appliances as a treatment for sleep apnea, they involve wearing a mask and create noise. Oral appliances are much less invasive and expensive, yet provide effective treatment.