Oral Appliance Sleep Apnea Therapy: Everything You Need To Know

Sleep apnea is a condition that, if taken lightly, can become the reason for various terminal diseases. Among the different types of sleep apnea, if a patient is diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, they can choose between Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) or oral appliance sleep apnea therapy.

In this piece, we will look into the latter topic in depth. We’ll discuss what oral appliance therapy is & how it is effective against obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The article will also explain why you might choose it over continuous positive airway pressure, the overall cost of oral appliances in the therapy, and more.

So, go through each section of the article, and by the end, you will be able to understand everything regarding oral appliance therapy on obstructive sleep apnea.


What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Before we dive into the details regarding oral appliances and the procedure of the therapy, first, you need to understand what obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is – because this is the only form of sleep apnea where you can apply oral appliance therapy.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a type of sleeping disorder where a patient suffers from breathing difficulties while they are asleep. This generally happens when our upper airway is blocked by our tongue or jaw, and air can’t go through. It can be blocked completely or partially.

·       Symptoms

When this occurs, the body stops breathing, leading to us waking up or loud snoring and other symptoms. If a person is suffering from OSA, then he or she will face trouble concentrating, their mood will be foul most of the time, and there will be a constant feeling of tiredness.

Due to the lack of quality sleep, the body will also suffer from oxygen deprivation, which can lead to brain damage, heart attacks, and more.

Obstructive sleep apnea can also trigger central apnea if not treated in the early stages. And this type of sleep apnea is the result of your brain function collapsing, so you should look to treat obstructive sleep apnea as soon as possible, even if it is a mild or moderate OSA.

What Is an Oral Appliance Therapy for Sleep Apnea?

There are two options to counter or treat obstructive sleep apnea: either go for a CPAP machine, a continuous positive airway pressure device or choose oral appliance therapy.

Oral appliance therapy work by targeting the reason behind your obstructive sleep apnea and implementing a device to prevent that reason from occurring. While it may sound simple, building the perfect oral device can take up quite a lot of time and money because one human body is different from the other.

But sometimes, that is not the case, as you might get your sleep apnea dental treatment done for just 100 bucks. We will discuss this matter in the later part of this article.

So, in short, oral appliance therapy is a form of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) treatment that targets the main reason behind sleep-disordered breathing: the blockage of the upper airway and tries to provide positive airway pressure so that the patient won’t have any problem breathing during their sleep.

How Does Oral Appliance Therapy Work?

As mentioned earlier oral appliance therapy works to keep the upper airway open. And to do so, the first step is to figure out why the upper airway is getting blocked in the first place.

To find out the reason for and treat OSA, a sleep specialist will conduct a sleep test, along with a sleep specialist, a dentist, or a doctor who might also reside if the patient is suffering from severe sleep apnea.

This test will also determine the sleep quality and whether the patient has any serious sleep disorder. Upon receiving the result, a doctor decides which type of oral device will be used to treat the patient’s obstructive sleep apnea.

They will also provide a list of clinical sleep medicine, dental devices, and any other sleep apnea oral appliances needed for the treatment.

After that, it is time to assign the oral device to the patient. For this, a dentist will measure the patient’s jaw, tongue, or teeth structure. This depends on the reason behind the airway lockage of the patient.

·       Dental Therapy

Dental sleep medicine is also introduced in this part of the dentist’s needs for the patient to be completely still during the mapping process of their mouth.

Once that is done, the dentist will send the retrieved data to a company where they will assemble the dental appliance for sleep apnea patients.

Do keep in mind that these dental devices won’t be perfect from the get-go. So, you will have to visit the dentist multiple times in order to get the perfect dental appliance for yourself.

For those who suffer from severe sleep apnea and use multiple dental devices for their oral appliance therapy, this can be a drag as they will have to visit the doctors quite a lot to get things right.

That’s why many patients with severe OSA prefer CPAP devices over oral appliance therapy. Also, multiple uses of clinical sleep medicine can have a negative effect on the body and cause health problems.

Devices Used on Oral Appliance Therapy

If you are going with oral appliance therapy for your treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), then you will end up needing one or all of the following oral devices:

1.    Mouth Guards

2.    Mandibular Advancementnt Devices &

3.    Tounge Retaining Devices

Mouth Guards

If one suffers from moderate obstructive sleep apnea and common sleep disorders, this is the oral device that is picked to keep the airway open when he or she sleeps. The purpose of the mouth guard is to reposition your lower jaw forward so that there is no blockage for the air to run into.

This oral appliance can be custom-made, which we recommend, or you can get a premade mouth guard like the ones found in SnoreRx. The premade ones can be quite cheap, and you can get one for around 100 $ or so.

Mandibular Advancement Devices

From moderate sleep apnea to severe OSA, when it comes to oral appliance therapy, we think of mandibular advancement device application. This device works to adjust your lower jaw, kinda like mouth guards but at a more advanced and permanent level.

The device is made with hard plastic; there are metal hinges along with screws that allow you to tighten or soften the grip of the device. The cost for this dental device can sometimes range from 1000$ to over 5000$.

Tongue Retaining Devices

If the tongue is the reason why the airflow is interrupted, then a tongue-retaining device is used. Unlike mandibular advancement devices, this one is made with soft plastic so that it can hold the sensitive and soft tissue of the tongue when you sleep.

You can expect to spend somewhere between 100$ and 1000$ for a tongue-stabilizing device.

Final Thoughts

If you don’t want to opt for continuous positive airway pressure for your obstructive sleep apnea treatment, oral appliance therapy is better than any other treatment. If you have come this far in this article, you already know the basic details about this treatment.

So, follow up with your doctor and dentists about your sleeping conditions, and then let the doctor decide which method & oral appliance device will be the optimal choice for you.