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Sleep apnea mouthpiece

Obstructive sleep apnea can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and other cardiovascular diseases. There are lifestyle changes that can decrease the risk of experiencing obstructive sleep apnea, such as abstaining from drinking alcohol and losing weight. There are also medical treatments that prevent the collapse of soft tissues while sleeping. A sleep apnea mouthpiece uses two connected pieces of plastic that slip over the upper and lower teeth to draw the lower jaw forward, reducing air obstruction.

How a sleep apnea mouthpiece works

Obstructive sleep apnea happens when soft tissues that line the passage to the lungs block the flow of air. A sleep apnea mouthpiece draws the lower jaw forward in order to change the position of these soft tissues, reducing the chance that they will block airflow. Known as mandibular advancement splints, these snore guards reduce the incidence of obstructive sleep apnea and snoring.

Using an oral device

Sleep apnea equipment like a mandibular advancement splint is made based on impressions of your teeth. Specially shaped dental trays that are connected by an elastic are worn overnight. During what is known as “washing-in,” the tension on the elastic is slowly increased over the course of weeks until the person wearing the sleep apnea mouthpiece registers discomfort. Once it is determined just how far forward the lower jaw can be drawn without causing discomfort, washing-in is complete. The maximum comfortable level of mandibular advancement is then used as the long-term therapeutic setting for the splint.

Sleep apnea mouthpieces are also effective snoring solutions. After all, snoring is due to the partial obstruction of the airway. The physiological changes caused by mandibular advancement splints led them to serve well as stop snoring devices and have been shown to be a useful snoring remedy.

FAQs

Do mouthpieces work for sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea mouthpieces, also referred to as oral appliances or mandibular advancement splints, have been shown to be effective at treating sleep apnea. The specific configuration that helps relieve sleep apnea requires the lower jaw to be pulled forward. Drawing the lower jaw forward opens the airways, reducing and even preventing the obstructive sleep apneas.

How can I treat sleep apnea at home without CPAP therapy?

While CPAP therapy, or continuous positive airway pressure therapy, is very effective at treating sleep apnea, many people have trouble getting used to using a CPAP machine and may stop using it. A sleep apnea mouthpiece, which simply slips on like a mouthguard, can be effective at treating sleep apnea. Many studies have found that obstructive sleep apnea sufferers prefer using an oral appliance to treat sleep apnea versus CPAP.

What is the best oral device for sleep apnea?

Oral devices that treat sleep apnea draw the lower jaw forwards. This causes the airways to be more likely to remain open during sleep, reducing the likelihood that obstructive sleep apnea will occur. The best oral device for sleep apnea is one that can comfortably draw the lower jaw forwards. If the device causes discomfort, it can lead to it not being used, which means the sleep apnea doesn’t end up being treated.

Which is better for sleep apnea, CPAP therapy or an oral appliance?

Continuous positive airway pressure therapy has been found to be more effective than mandibular advancement splint therapy at treating sleep apnea. Unfortunately, there isn’t much research that takes into account the results of different levels of adherence between CPAP and oral appliances. Many people find wearing a CPAP machine while sleeping to be uncomfortable, and as a result may stop using CPAP therapy for the treatment of sleep apnea. More research has to be done to determine whether adherence levels are different between mandibular advancement splints and CPAP machines. A treatment that is abandoned due to discomfort will be less effective than one that may not provide as much relief but is easier to adhere to.

Do mouth guards for teeth grinding work for sleep apnea?

No. In order to protect teeth from damage, you only need to place some type of barrier between the upper and lower jaws. A form-fitted plastic insert can protect teeth from teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, by distributing the force of the jaws across all teeth equally. An oral appliance for sleep apnea, however, draws the lower jaw forwards in order to alter the shape of the soft tissues of the airway. In fact, research into the effectiveness of mandibular advancement splints for sleep apnea use simple mouth guards as ascientific control.

 

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