Oral appliances are a front-line treatment for snoring and mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). These small plastic devices fit in the mouth during sleep like a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer.
Oral appliances help prevent the collapse of the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat, keeping the airway open during sleep and promoting adequate air intake. Oral appliances may be used alone or in combination with other treatments for sleep-related breathing disorders, such as weight management, surgery or CPAP.
Standards of Care
Morrison Dental can provide oral appliances to patients with primary snoring or mild OSA who do not respond to or are not appropriate candidates for treatment with behavioral measures such as weight loss or sleep-position change.
Patients with moderate to severe OSA should be thoroughly examined by a sleep physician and have an initial trial treatment using a nasal CPAP due to greater effectiveness with the use of oral appliances.
Oral appliance therapy may be appropriate and effective for patients with moderate to severe OSA who are intolerant of or refuse treatment with nasal CPAP. Oral appliances are also indicated for patients who refuse treatment or are not candidates for tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, cranofacial operations, or tracheostomy.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy involves the selection, fitting and use of a specially designed oral appliance that maintains an open, unobstructed airway in the throat when worn during sleep. Custom-made oral appliances are proven to be more effective than over-the-counter devices (which are not recommended as a screening tool nor as a therapeutic option).
Morrison Dental dentists are familiar with the various designs of appliances and can help determine which is best suited for your specific needs. Morrison Dental will work with your physician to provide diagnosis, treatment and ongoing care. A joint consultation will be required to determine the most effective treatment approach.
Advantages of Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliances are comfortable and easy to wear. Most people find that it only takes a couple of weeks to become acclimated to wearing the appliance. Oral appliances are small and convenient making them easy to carry when traveling, and treatment with oral appliances is reversible and non-invasive.
Types of Oral Appliances
With so many different oral appliances available, selection of a specific appliance may appear somewhat overwhelming. Nearly all appliances fall into one of two categories. The diverse variety is simply a variation of a few major themes. Oral appliances can be classified by mode of action or design variation:
Tongue Retaining Appliances
Tongue retaining appliances hold the tongue in a forward position using a suction bulb. When the tongue is in a forward position, it serves to keep the back of the tongue from collapsing during sleep and obstructing the airway in the throat.
Mandibular Repositioning Appliances
Mandibular repositioning appliances reposition and maintain the lower jaw in a protruded position during sleep. The device serves to open the airway by indirectly pulling the tongue forward, stimulating activity of the muscles in the tongue and making it more rigid. The device also holds the lower jaw and other structures in a stable position to prevent the mouth from opening.