Sleep apnea is a serious, sometimes fatal medical condition. A partial obstruction of the airway leads to shallow and even paused breaths throughout the night. This, in turn, causes the patient to fall out of rejuvenating deep sleep in order to "catch his breath," even though he doesn't wake up enough to remember doing so.
The most immediate symptom of sleep apnea is chronic, unexplained tiredness. However, there are more serious complications to it as well, including a variety of heart conditions, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The body needs restful sleep.
A common solution is a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which consists of a face mask that forces pressurized air through the mouth and/or nose, keeping airways open. The result is a better, deeper, and healthier sleep.
But what can I do if I can't wear CPAP? Maybe the air compressor is so loud it disrupts sleep even more than the apnea. Maybe my skin keeps breaking out in rashes in reaction to the mask, or perhaps the force of air has dried out my nose and throat to the point of nosebleeds, sinus issues, and a sore throat. And forget sleeping on my stomach! Or maybe I've just tried a variety of masks and found that none of them work for my particular face.
One alternative is an oral appliance worn in the mouth during sleep. It is far less invasive than a CPAP machine and is silent, which is a relief to both me and my sleeping partner! The appliance fits like a mouth guard and subtly repositions the jaw to open up airways and keep them open, allowing a deeper, less interrupted, and more regenerative sleep.
These oral appliances need to be properly fitted by a dentist trained in their use. This includes evaluation of exactly what type of appliance will work best for you, measurement of your mouth for proper fitting, and the creation of the appliance itself.
by Peter J. Samuels, DDS