Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can have quite an effect on the human body. Starting from a bit of trouble concentrating to terminal heart disease, all begin with low to medium obstructive sleep apnea. And soon, it becomes severe and ends up risking high blood pressure, heart failure, and more.
To counter this, you need to opt for treatment options. If you are not feeling comfortable with continuous positive airway pressure, taking dental sleep medicine and oral appliance therapy might be the best option.
And in this article, we will take a deep dive into dental oral appliance therapy, how it functions, who it is for, and the positives & negatives of the practice. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the details, shall we?
What Is a Dental Oral Appliance Therapy?
Oral appliance therapy is a treatment for sleep disorders and obstructive sleep apnea by finding out the part of the body that is causing the disorder and using dental devices to solve the issues. In short, it is an OSA treatment that utilizes devices that attach to your teeth to prevent OSA from occurring.
This is different from CPAP therapy because a CPAP machine forces the air through so the airway doesn’t collapse and you don’t suffer congestive heart failure.
On the other hand, dental oral appliance therapy finds the main reason behind the blockage of airflow and appoints certain dental devices attached to your teeth in order to counter obstructive sleep apnea.
Who Needs Sleep Apnea Oral Appliances Therapy?
These dental appliances treatment is for people who are suffering from obstructive sleep apnea only. Whether it is severe OSA or mild OSA, dental appliances will do their work as long as you equip them properly.
This treatment option is mainly suggested when patients don’t seem comfortable around CPAP devices, as they make excessive amounts of sound when pushing air. Therefore, it can hinder the sleep of you and your bed partner. Also, sometimes this treatment is the cost-effective option compared to other treatments of OSA.
Do keep in mind that oral appliance therapy is not suited for people who are suffering from complex or central sleep apnea. This is also not preferable if you have any teeth-related health issues either.
How Does It Work?
As mentioned earlier, the working process of this dental therapy depends on finding the reasons behind obstructive sleep apnea. To do so, you will need to find a dentist who is certified to conduct oral appliance therapy on their patients.
This is a crucial factor if you decide to treat sleep apnea with the oral appliance treatment option. Many patients ignore this and get their work done by non-certified professionals and end up regretting afterward.
As clinical sleep medicine is used in this procedure, you should only opt for dentists who know about the craft through experience.
· Undergoing a Sleep Test
Next, a doctor and a sleep specialist will conduct a sleep test to determine what sort of sleep disorders and type of sleep apnea you have. This test also reveals the reason behind obstructive sleep apnea and which organ is behind the problem.
It can take some days to a few weeks, but unless your case is too complicated (like having severe obstructive sleep apnea), you will get the results in a week or two. If you are suffering from a mild or moderate OSA, then you can even get the results in a day or two.
Once the results are out and the origin causing the OSA is revealed, you will be given options to decide which oral appliance device will work for you. It is recommended that you let the doctor decide.
After the initial consultation, the doctor will take your teeth’s measurements and send the data to the company that will make the custom oral appliance to help you fight back sleep apnea.
The device takes time to properly suit the patients, and they will have to make further adjustments to make it more to their taste. And that’s how the process of oral appliance therapy work.
Different Types of Dental Devices Used for Oral Appliances Treatment
Depending g on the organ behind your OSA, you will be assigned to one or multiple devices that will work to keep your upper airway open and breathing functional. The devices that are used for oral appliance therapy are:
Tongue Retaining Devices
As the name suggests, this device works to bring your tongue forward so that it doesn’t cover the upper airway and keeps it open. Unfortunately, the tongue-stabilizing device targets the soft tissue of your tongue and can feel quite annoying at first as they are attached to your tongue through your teeth.
Therefore, conducting specific alterations depending on your comfort is necessary for this dental device.
Mandibular Advancement Devices
The mandibular advancement device is placed over both the upper and lower teeth. It functions to bring your lower jaw forward so that it doesn’t affect your breathing while you are asleep.
This oral device also offers hinges that can tighten or loosen the grip, so you can easily adjust the tension. If the lower jaw is the reason behind your OSA, then this is the most optimal treatment for that.
The alternative treatment for mandibular advancement devices is mouth guards. Although they are a bit more tamed-down version, if you suffer from mild to moderate OSA, this can be a good budget-effective option.
However, your dentist will take a sample of your teeth and give you a custom mouth guard to keep your jaw forward while you sleep.
Cost to Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) with Oral Appliances
When it comes to treating OSA with oral appliances, they can cost less than CPAP machines but, in some cases, can make you pay even more! For both the tongue retaining and mouth guards, the cost will be around 100$ to 200$ for custom designs.
But for a mandibular advancement device, the price can be somewhere between 1000$ and 4000$ or more. The payment is generally taken care of by your medical insurance under dental care.
Benefits of Dental Oral Appliance Sleep Apnea Treatment
Here are the benefits that you will enjoy from oral appliances for your OSA treatment:
- Comfortable to put on
- Great for portability and travel
- Simple caring process
- No sounds or issues that harm sleep directly
Issues of Dental Oral Appliance Therapy
The problems that you will have to face with oral appliance therapy are:
- Pain around the teeth (not common)
- Requires a lot of adjustments & optimize care
- It can cause dry mouth & bad breath
- Uncomfortable to wear at first
- If left untreated can easily break
If you want to avoid health problems from sleep apnea, then dental oral appliance therapy is a safe & standard treatment option. If applied properly, you won’t have any more issues that result in your body stopping to breathe while you sleep.
So, use this sleep apnea dental solution, and you will be saying goodbye to obstructive sleep apnea in no time. Best of luck!