Many people believe that CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure machines are the only treatment options for sleep apnea sufferers. However, that is not the case. Dental appliances can also be used to effectively treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
Do dental sleep appliances work like a CPAP machine?
Dental sleep appliances do not work in the same manner as a CPAP machine, but they do encourage uninterrupted breathing. A CPAP machine directs a stream of air into the face of the sleeper to promote a continuous breathing cycle. A dental appliance does not provide additional airflow. Instead, the device promotes proper placement of the structural components of the mouth.
The intervals of interrupted breathing that are associated with sleep apnea often occur when the soft tissues within the mouth collapse into the throat to obstruct airflow. A dental appliance can keep the lower jaw in proper position during rest to discourage soft tissue collapse.
Are dental appliances for sleep apnea bulky?
One reason that many people find it difficult to sleep while using a CPAP machine is the bulk of the device. The mask covers a significant portion of the face, making some sleep positions awkward and uncomfortable.
Dental sleep appliances fit in the mouth like a custom mouth-guard. The appliance fits onto the upper teeth and the lower teeth. Most people find the appliance quite comfortable.
Is the process for obtaining a dental sleep appliance lengthy?
Only a few appointments are needed for the creation of your dental sleep appliance. During one appointment, a mold of your mouth is made to use as a guide for the dental lab that will fabricate the appliance. Once the appliance is complete, a fitting appointment is scheduled to ensure that the device fits and performs as it should. You will be monitored with several appointments over a period of time to make sure the appliance is working optimally.
Does insurance pay for oral sleep appliances?
Oral sleep appliance therapy is a recognized effective treatment for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. It is often covered by medical insurance.
Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.