Dental Appliances Can Treat Sleep Apnea

Millions of Americans suffer from the effects of snoring. More than just a noisy nuisance, snoring can often be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The most prevalent treatment for OSA is CPAP therapy which involves wearing a mask connected to a CPAP machine while you sleep.  However, Dr. Melanie Andrews of Plantation Road Dental Care, a dental office in Destrehan, LA, offers an alternative treatment in the form of an oral appliance to wear while you’re asleep instead of constrictive masks.

Q: What causes sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is most often observed in individuals that are considered medically obese or at least carrying extra weight. Sleeping in some positions can cause the airways to become obstructed as the muscles relax during sleep. This restricts airflow to the rest of the body which can have negative effects on the sleeper. He or she will often awake multiple times gasping for air during the night and usually wakes up still feeling tired, and may fall asleep during the day, or have issues with concentration or their memory.

Q: I thought the only option for sleep apnea was CPAP therapy. How does the oral appliance work?

While CPAP therapy is still the most commonly prescribed sleep apnea treatment, an oral appliance can provide a similar result. Both methods offer different ways of keeping the airway open during deep sleep, when the soft tissues in the mouth and throat are more relaxed and therefore more likely to collapse over the airway.

However, instead of a constant flow of pressurized air keeping the airway open during sleep, as is the case with CPAP therapy, the oral appliance is custom-fitted to position the patient’s mouth in such a way as to prevent the airway from closing. The device moves the bottom jaw forward to keep the soft tissue from collapsing over the airway. The appliance is strong enough to stand up to teeth grinding so that those patients can benefit from this therapy as well.

Q: How comfortable is a sleep apnea oral appliance?

Dr. Andrews meets with patients for an individual consultation where they will examine the mouth and make sure you’re fitted correctly and comfortably. The device does reposition the jaw, but it is custom-fitted to fit comfortably inside the mouth to disrupt sleep as little as possible. Most patients report a reduction in snoring and better sleep while using the oral appliance.

Q: Do I have to see a dentist to get it?

What makes this oral appliance especially effective and  comfortable is how well it’s fitted to the individual patient’s mouth. Dr. Andrews will meet with you to discuss your needs, gather precise measurements of your mouth, and will work with you to make sure the device is as comfortable as possible. The last thing we want is for you to have difficulty sleeping because the appliance is uncomfortable.

Our caring staff at Plantation Road Dental Care in Destrehan, LA wants to help you sleep better. Call (985) 231-2770 or schedule an appointment online today.