Dental Device for Sleep Apnea
Americans have a complicated relationship with sleep. According to a recent Gallup poll, roughly 40% of us do not get the recommended 7-9 nightly hours of slumber. Lack of sleep can take a toll on our waking lives, resulting in poor performance at work or school and an increased risk of involvement in car accidents. The prevalence of sleep apnea is another sign of poor sleep quality in this country. To treat mild to moderate cases of this disorder, many doctors recommend a dental device for sleep apnea.
Types of Dental Devices
- Tongue Retaining Device (TRD)
This appliance gently pushes the tongue forward using suction. This keeps the back of the tongue from collapsing and obstructing breathing during sleep.
- Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD)
This is the more widely used device. It looks like a mouth guard athletes wear during sports. This appliance presses the lower jaw forward and down slightly, allowing the tongue to be more rigid and the airway more fully opened.
Benefits of a Dental Device for Sleep Apnea
- Improved quality of sleep in participating patients
- Reduced frequency and noise level of snoring
- Compared to CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), patients are more likely to use a dental device for sleep apnea, as it is more comfortable and easier to adjust to wearing than a CPAP mask.
- Proven better long-term control of sleep apnea symptoms compared to a uvulopalatopharyungoplasty (UPPP), the standard surgical treatment where throat tissue is removed.
Disadvantages of a Dental Device for Sleep Apnea
- Discomfort during wear, dry lips, and excessive salivation, leading some patients to stop using a dental device
- Very rarely, using a dental device worsens sleep apnea symptoms
- Occasionally, using a dental device can permanently alter the orientation of the jaw. Regular check-ins with a sleep apnea doctor are recommended to ensure devices fit well and any needed adjustments made.
No sleep apnea treatment is a one-size-fits-all situation, so work with your doctor to find the best one for you. Your sleep apnea symptoms will not disappear overnight, but after a few weeks, most people see significant improvement using a dental device.