Oral Appliance Therapy
Here at Loretto Family Dentistry, we’re more than happy to help treat your sleep apnea with Oral Appliance Therapy. Sleep apnea can be a debilitating condition that impacts not only the quality of your sleep but also your functionality throughout the day. Seeking help at the early onset of sleep apnea from a qualified dentist can mediate many complications down the road.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a natural phenomenon that affects your breathing while you sleep. Your breathing stops and frequently starts, causing you to gasp for air and wake up. For most people, the involuntary act of breathing during sleep is a seamless activity, even though the muscles in their oral cavity are relaxed. For those who suffer from sleep apnea, these muscles relax to a point where the tongue obstructs the passage of the airways. This completely obstructs the regular flow of air from the nose and mouth to the lungs.
Consequently, the lack of oxygen in your lungs causes you to wake up and gasp for air.
Symptoms and Complications
In addition to symptoms such as waking up frequently during sleep, snoring loudly, and headaches in the morning, sleep apnea can lead to other serious health complications. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and even heart attack. If left untreated, sleep apnea can be lethal.
Treatment With Oral Appliance Therapy
The most convenient and least invasive treatment of treating sleep apnea is through Oral Appliance Therapy. This involves small devices that are utilized in and around the oral cavity to prevent the muscles from obstructing the airways.
There are three functional classifications of oral appliances. These include tongue retaining appliances, mandibular repositioning appliances, and combination oral appliances. There may also be design variations in the manufacturing of an oral appliance, and this depends on factors such as the method of retention, flexibility of the material, adjustability, vertical opening, and freedom of jaw movement.
There are many over the counter oral appliances available, but we don’t recommend these. Largely because every case is unique and one size does not fit all. You may have a larger/smaller than average jaw structure, and a loosely fit oral appliance will defeat its purpose.
While applying the oral appliance, it is imperative to allow room for the tongue and avoid excess lingual/palatal hardware. The tongue has seven different reflexes, and it usually contracts on contact, which constricts the airways. For a successful application of the oral appliance, you must not encroach on the tongue.
Other factors to look out for before applying the oral application include nasal obstruction, claustrophobia, poor dexterity, short dental arches, and an increased gag reflex. It’s important to get a thorough checkup before you elect to go for oral appliance therapy.
Oral appliances are easy to wear, non-invasive, and convenient to carry around even if you’re traveling. If you have any queries regarding oral appliances and their application, please do not hesitate to contact us at Loretto Family Dentistry at (940) 287-3535 any time.