According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 12 million Americans have sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by cessations in breathing during sleep. Although sleep apnea is common, many individuals are unaware that they have it. In fact, it is estimated that only 16 percent of people with sleep apnea receive treatment.
The most widely used treatment for sleep apnea involves using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to deliver constant and steady air pressure to the airways via a hose and mask worn over the nose. However, drawbacks and limitations of the CPAP machine have made way for more modern treatment alternatives, including oral appliance therapy.
Atlanta Smiles & Wellness, a comprehensive dental practice in Atlanta, has helped hundreds of sleep apnea patients get a good night’s rest with oral appliance therapy. Here, our team shares more information on oral appliances and their benefits.
How Do Oral Appliances Work?
There are two main types of oral appliances: the mandibular-repositioning device (MRD) and the tongue-retaining device (TRD). MRDs are designed similarly to sports mouth guards that hold the lower jaw in a protruding position during sleep, creating more space at the back of the throat so air can freely flow through. This in turn eliminates snoring. MRDs are now available for people who are missing many or all of their teeth.
A TRD is a soft device that holds the tongue in a forward position while you sleep, preventing the tongue from falling back into the throat and blocking the airway.
Oral appliances are crafted using high quality materials. Latex-free and metal-free appliances are available for individuals with allergies.
What Are the Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy?
Oral appliances offer patients the ability to sleep well at night without any of the drawbacks of CPAP machines. Oral appliances are:
Portable. Perhaps the biggest complaint patients have about CPAP machines is that they are bulky. Oral appliances are quite the opposite. Small and discreet, oral appliances are very easy to move and travel with.
Comfortable. Many patients feel that the mask connected to CPAP machines is uncomfortable to wear, and some patients have difficulty keeping it in place while they sleep. Others complain that the air pump is noisy or causes bloating. Oral devices are comfortable to wear and noise is not a factor, making it more likely that you will experience sound and uninterrupted sleep.
Non-invasive. Unlike surgical treatments, oral appliance therapy is non-invasive and completely reversible. If you are unhappy with your oral appliance, simply remove it!
If you have sleep apnea, or suspect that you may have it, Atlanta Smiles & Wellness encourages you to schedule a consultation with us. Speak to a member of our friendly team by calling (404) 262-7733 or emailing us today.