When it comes to combating the different health issues associated with obstructive sleep apnea, the role of oral appliance therapy is immense. Oral appliances specifically designed to improve sleep apnea work by:
- Repositioning the parts of the oral cavity in a suitable position
- Suppress collapse and blockage in the airways
- Ensuring smooth respiration
So, if you’re suffering from mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea and are looking for reliable substitutes to CPAP machines, it’s time to switch to oral appliance therapy.
Here, we will introduce you to some of the best oral appliances that exist out there targeted specifically for sleep-related breathing disorders.
Types of Oral Appliances Available for Sleep Apnea Treatment
Sleep specialists have been opting for different oral appliances nowadays in order to minimize the health implications of sleep apnea.
These appliances aim to provide sound sleep by reducing the chances of obstruction in the airway, which is a much better option than CPAP therapy (continuous positive airway pressure).
Oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea can be categorized into 4 groups.
- Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs)
- Tongue-Retaining Devices (TRDs)
- Palatal Lift Appliances
- Positional Therapy Devices
Each of these oral appliances has its own individual mechanism of action, advantages, and disadvantages. However, all these oral devices work well to significantly diminish sleep apnea symptoms.
So, how does oral appliance therapy work for OSA? Here’s a quick look at what each oral appliance does to treat sleep apnea.
Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs)
Mandibular advancement devices are the most popular dental appliances among patients with sleep apnea. It is also the first choice of a sleep specialist considering its efficacy and ease of use. So, how does a mandibular advancement device work?
A mandibular advancement device (MAD) is also called a mandibular protrusion device, as it acts by protruding the jaw with the help of an attachment between the upper and lower jaw.
Another name for this device is a ‘Mandibular Advancement Splint,’ considering its effectiveness in reducing throat constriction during sleeping.
One of the most notable features of this dental device is that it is designed in such a way that it can be adjusted to fit any individual.
Nowadays, you can find elastic mandibular appliances in the market which have amazing flexibility. The elastic straps in this custom appliance can be changed and adjusted easily according to user convenience.
Another great thing about MADs is that it helps to treat snoring by slowing down the number of breathing gaps every night.
So, this oral device not only improves the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea but can be useful in different sleep-disordered breathing issues.
Tongue Retaining Devices (TRDs)
Next in line are the tongue retaining appliances, which are equally beneficial for treating sleep apnea. So, what is a tongue-retaining device?
A tongue retaining device is an oral appliance targeted to fight against mild to moderate sleep apnea by leveraging the tongue forward with the help of a negative vacuum pressure.
One of the best things about this oral appliance is that it does not depend on the jaw for securing the upper airway. It helps the tongue stay in position without collapsing and diminishes the chances of any blockage in the upper airway.
A tongue retainer also works wonders for controlling high blood pressure and improving daytime sleepiness. Usually, tough polyvinyl material is used in the construction of this oral appliance, which provides maximum flexibility to the product.
This therapy is considered one of the most effective treatment options for moderate OSA, especially as a CPAP machine alternative.
Palatal Lift Appliances
Quite new to the game, palatal lift appliances have also proved to be effective in moderate sleep apnea treatment. This form of oral appliance therapy targets nasal air leaks by lifting the soft palate during sleeping.
As a result, daytime sleepiness is greatly ameliorated, and snoring is improved. Patients suffering from long-term sleep apnea can highly benefit from this type of dental device.
Positional Therapy Devices
Lastly, we have positional therapy devices that have taken the market with their amazing benefits in combating the risks of obstructive sleep apnea.
Positional therapy devices work by following the combination of vibration and tactile response systems. Patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea need to wear the positional therapy device around their midriff before sleeping.
The vibration mode of the device is turned on when the patient’s position shifts from his side to his back. This therapy is widely recommended by sleep specialists as a secondary treatment for fighting sleep apnea.
Although it may not have the same efficacy as a CPAP machine, different research has shown that it has better tolerance compared to CPAP machines.
And there are different types of appliances targeted to tackle sleep apnea, the most sought devices are the MADs and TRDs. These two device categories have shown maximum efficacy in maintaining a smooth sleep cycle and preventing airway blockage.
Their role in acting as effective alternatives for Nasal CPAP (positive air pressure) is one of the main reasons why specialists recommend these devices to OSA patients.
Finding the Best Oral Appliance Option for You
With the rise of sleep disorders among the general population, settling down with the most effective oral appliance can be a challenging task. Here are some of the best dental appliances that you can try to minimize your sleep apnea symptoms.
Vivos Oral Appliance Therapy
If you’re looking for a non-surgical procedure to alleviate snoring and treat OSA, Vivos is one of the most effective treatment options out there.
With an average treatment time of 18 months (about 1 and a half years), this dental appliance therapy works with the involvement of trained medical professionals and dentists.
It is an excellent alternative to continuous positive airway pressure therapy and works for both mild OSA as well as moderate OSA.
Thornton Adjustable Positioner (TAP)
The Thornton Adjustable Positioner belongs to the Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) category and is a perfect fit for those with mild or moderate OSA. It works by relocating the tongue forward during sleep and helps with slowing down the snoring frequency.
This is also a great device for patients with chronic snoring, even if it is unrelated to sleep apnea.
TAP appliances shift the mandible forward to help easy entrance of air into the airway tract during sleeping. Since it is easy to insert and extract, there is minimal soft tissue damage and tooth discomfort.
The Panthera D-SAD
There are very few lightweight oral appliances in the market, which is why the Panthera has become so popular in this community.
Apart from being lightweight in design, this oral pressure appliance is known to be highly resilient and durable. The chief component in its framework is polyamide nylon which has very high thermal stability and terrific chemical resistance.
So, if you’re looking for a user-friendly dental device for sleep apnea, the Panthera D-SAD can be an excellent choice.
DynaFlex is also one of the leading brands of dental devices in the industry. Patients who are frequently sleep-deprived due to severe OSA can benefit from using this oral sleep device.
Dynaflex has some great dental appliances in their line, starting from the Dynaflex Herbst, Dynaflex Dorsal, TAP, and elastic mandibular advancement appliances.
The aim of these Dynaflex dental devices is to clear the upper airway during sleep by pushing the lower jaw forward. And the custom-milled devices clink over the lower and upper teeth with an accurate jaw position.
It resembles the shape of a typical mouth guard and contains a soft plastic splint to keep the airway open and clear.
Clasp Retained Mandibular Positioner
This is another unique device that works as a great substitute for continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines. If your symptoms have stopped responding to CPAP therapy, you can give the mandibular positioner a go.
It utilizes its built-in clasps to move the lower jaw forward and places the mandible in a certain position where posterior displacement is not possible. In this way, it reduces the collapsibility of the airway and protects the airway from damage.
Lastly, we have some cool oral appliances from Zyppah, which is another sophisticated brand that designs dental appliances for sleep apnea.
Approved by the FDA, this device can only be inserted by a sleep specialist. Patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea need oral appliances that are not only made with tough material but also fall in the user-friendly category.
Zyppah makes sure that patients obtain the best from their dental devices. So, it uses components to attach both the upper and lower trays of the appliance that help in easy forwarding of the upper and lower jaws.
How to Choose the Right Oral Appliance for You?
Here’s how to pick the right oral appliance to turn your restless nights into peaceful slumbers.
Almost all appliances designed for sleep apnea are adjustable. However, it is still important to go through the specifications of each appliance to find out if the size is appropriate enough for everyone.
Most mandibular advancement devices are custom designed to fit the patient’s mouth. There is a basal component that surrounds the upper teeth, lower teeth and gingival margin.
So, before selecting an oral appliance for your sleep disorders, make sure that the product is an ideal fit for your oral cavity.
Material plays a huge role in any commodity, and the same applies to dental appliances as well. Since an appliance for a sleep disorder is meant to be worn every night until the symptoms improve or completely resolve, the material should be top-notch.
Look for high-grade nylon or hard acrylics as materials for oral appliances. Any other biocompatible polymer can work as an excellent base for these oral appliances.
This is because biocompatible polymers are durable and lightweight in appearance. The rate of allergic reactions to these components is the lowest in comparison to any other material.
Ease of Use
Since oral devices are going to be your companions for every day, it is important to choose one that won’t be too complicated to handle. So, before finalizing your pick, make sure that all the components of the device are easily arranged.
Anything too complex will become troublesome for you to use daily. Look for appliances with simple parts, especially the ones custom-milled in a dental laboratory.
How to Find a Qualified Provider for Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment in Houston?
Looking for qualified providers for effective treatment against OSA? Sleep Apnea Treatment in Houston is a qualified provider for obstructive sleep apnea treatment that uses advanced technology and techniques to help patients who suffer from sleep apnea. The team at Sleep Apnea Treatment in Houston specializes in the use of Vivos devices, which are customized dental appliances that provide relief from snoring and obstruction of the airway during sleep. They also offer non-invasive treatments such as CPAP therapy, oxygen therapy, and oral appliance therapy to provide relief from symptoms associated with sleep apnea. These innovative solutions are designed to improve the quality of life for those suffering from this condition, so they can get back to living their best lives.
Oral appliances are a suitable treatment for patients suffering from varying degrees of obstructive sleep apnea. Although they are not a good fit for central sleep apnea, they have shown astonishing results in airway blockage due to OSA.
So, if you’re an OSA patient and are looking for an alternative option to switch from your regular CPAP therapy, dental appliances might be just the perfect option for you.