New Patients Click Here to Fill Out Your New Patient Paperwork

Oral Appliance for Sleep Apnea

Oral Appliance Therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea | Dental Clinic in Houston

Patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea often believe they have one option — CPAP. However, that’s not entirely true. If you don’t want to deal with the discomfort of CPAP machines while sleeping, you may want to consider oral appliance sleep apnea. Our dentists can offer an sleep apnea oral appliance to stabilize the tongue and help you sleep peacefully.


What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Loud and persistent snoring is often the first sign that a person has sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you have sleep apnea, you’re more likely to have high blood pressure and suffer from heart disease. There are two types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea.


Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much, and your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in. Your airway may collapse or become blocked several times an hour. Each time you stop breathing, your body is briefly deprived of oxygen. The pauses in breathing may last only a few seconds. Or they may persist for minutes.


Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed because people who have it don’t realize they’re stopping and starting their breathing during the night. A family member or bed partner may be the first to notice the problem. If you’re told you snore loudly and feel tired during the day, you must consult your dentist or sleep doctor to determine if you may have obstructive sleep apnea.

Risk Factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea affects 25% of all men and 10% of all women at some point. Several factors can increase your risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea. Some of these are modifiable, while others are not. The most common risk factor for OSA is excess weight. This is because fat deposits around the neck can narrow the airway. Losing weight can reduce the severity of sleep apnea.


The following are some of the other risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea:

  • Being male
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having a neck circumference of 17 inches or greater
  • Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
  • Having a family history of sleep apnea
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Use of sedatives or tranquilizers
  • Taking a sedating medication, such as a narcotic pain medication
  • Having systemic diseases, such as heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure

The Root Cause of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the airway because of the tongue, the soft palate, or the side walls of the throat. When the airway is blocked, it prevents air from flowing into the lungs, leading to snoring and difficulty breathing. In some cases, you may stop breathing altogether. The chest muscles and diaphragm work hard to open up the airway again. This leads to a loud gasp and body jerk as your breathing resumes.

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults:

  • Snoring
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Waking up abruptly during the night
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing during the day
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Sexual dysfunction

The most common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea is loud snoring. However, sleep apnea symptoms are often observed by sleeping partners, friends, or family members before they’re identified by the individual.

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Children:

  • Pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Waking up frequently during the night
  • Mouth breathing during the day
  • Hyperactivity
  • Problems paying attention
  • Behavioral problems
  • Sweating at night
  • Nighttime awake periods
  • Bedwetting
  • Sleepiness during the day
  • Poor school performance


The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea in children are usually less obvious. Some children may have one or two symptoms, while others may have several. You must contact your doctor if you notice the aforementioned sleep apnea symptoms.

Long-Term Effects of Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Arrhythmias
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Job impairment
  • Work-related accidents
  • Academic underachievement in children


Sleep Study: Diagnosing Obstructive Sleep Apnea

A home sleep test is the most common way to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea. It is a simple, non-invasive test that can be done in the comfort of your own home. During a home sleep test, you will wear a small monitor attached to your finger. The monitor will measure your heart rate, oxygen level, and breathing. You will also be asked to wear a nasal cannula, a small tube that goes up your nose and delivers oxygen.


You will be asked to sleep for at least four hours during the test. The monitor will record your sleep patterns and breathing. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you will likely snore loudly and have periods where you stop breathing. After the test is complete, the data will be analyzed by your dentist or sleep specialist. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, your dentist will discuss your treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, which may involve oral appliance therapy.


The following are the steps involved in your home sleep study:

  1. Submit your insurance information.
  2. We complete a complementary insurance verification to check your coverage.
  3. Your home sleep test is mailed to your home.
  4. You complete the 2-night sleep study from the comfort of your home and ship it back.
  5. Our physicians interpret the results and offer an official diagnosis within a few days.

Oral Appliances for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is a treatment option for people with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It involves wearing a mouthpiece that is custom-fit to your mouth. When you wear the oral appliance during sleep, it supports the jaw forward and prevents the tongue and soft palate from collapsing back into the throat, which can block the airway. As such, the oral appliances for sleep apnea keeps your airway open during sleep.

In mild OSA, sleep apnea oral appliance can reduce the number of apneas (breathing pauses) by 50% to 60%. In moderate OSA, oral appliances can reduce the number of apneas by 30% to 40%. Oral appliance therapy is an alternative to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. It is less invasive and can be more comfortable for some people. It is also easier to travel with an oral appliance than a CPAP machine.

How to Get an OSA Oral Appliance

The process of getting an oral appliance usually starts with a consultation with your dentist. During this consultation, your dentist will ask about your medical history and symptoms. They will also perform a physical examination of your mouth and throat. If you and your dentist decide that an oral appliance is the best treatment option, they will take impressions of your teeth. These impressions will be used to create a custom-fit oral appliance for you.

Once your oral appliance is ready, you will return to the dentist for a fitting. During this appointment, your dentist will ensure that the appliance fits comfortably in your mouth and is working properly. They may make adjustments to the appliance at this time. It is important to note that you will need to use your oral appliance every night for it to be effective, and perhaps even during short naps.


Potential Risks of Oral Appliance Device:

  • Discomfort
  • Increased saliva production
  • Soreness in the jaw and teeth
  • Bruxism (teeth grinding)
  • Throat irritation
  • Irritation of the gums
  • Jaw pain
  • Speech difficulties
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry mouth
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems


Most side effects or oral appliances for sleep apnea are temporary and mild. The discomfort should fade after a few days. If you experience persistent side effects, such as jaw pain, speech difficulties, and dry mouth, you should contact your dentist. 

Benefits of Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea:

  • Effective treatment for mild to moderate OSA
  • Suitable alternative to CPAP
  • Suitable for people who cannot tolerate CPAP
  • Nonsurgical treatment option
  • Small and portable
  • Comfortable and easy to use
  • Easy to care for
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Custom-made to fit your mouth
  • Covered by most insurance plans
  • Improve sleep quality and reduce snoring
  • Reduce daytime sleepiness and improve quality of life


Sleep Apnea Oral Appliance Therapy FAQs

Can severe sleep apnea be treated with an oral appliance?

Severe sleep apnea is defined as having 30 or more episodes of apnea (when breathing is interrupted) per hour. If you have severe sleep apnea, you may still be able to use an sleep apnea oral appliance, but it may not be as effective as CPAP. Some people with severe sleep apnea use both CPAP and an sleep apnea oral appliance. Your dentist will determine if you’re a suitable candidate for oral appliance therapy.

How long does an oral appliance for sleep apnea last?

Sleep Apnea Oral appliances are usually made of soft acrylic or silicone. They are comfortable to wear and are less likely to cause side effects than CPAP. Sleep apnea oral appliance need to be cleaned daily and replaced every few years. They can last for many years if they are well cared for.

How do I adjust my oral appliance for sleep apnea?

Check with your doctor or dental professional if you have any problems with your oral appliance sleep apnea. They can make adjustments to ensure that it is comfortable and working correctly.

How does a mouth piece for sleep apnea work?

A sleep apnea mouthpiece is a device worn during sleep to help keep the airway open. The mouthpiece is custom-made to fit the individual’s mouth and teeth. The sleep apnea mouthpiece works by holding the tongue in a forward position. This prevents the tongue from collapsing into the throat and blocking the airway. The mouthpiece also keeps the jaw in a forward position, which helps keep the airway open.

Schedule Your Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Houston

URBN Dental is committed to helping our patients get the treatment they need for obstructive sleep apnea. If you are suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. When you come to URBN Dental, we will work with you to develop a treatment plan, discuss your symptoms, diagnose the root cause, and design a custom-fitted oral appliances for sleep apnea.