Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is typically used to treat snoring or obstructive sleep apnea. It involves wearing a dental appliance while the patient sleeps. This device resembles a sports mouthguard or retainer. This type of therapy is only effective for mild to moderate sleep apnea. While this treatment can be successful, it should be noted there are a number of concerning side effects including mouth soreness, nausea, and potential change in the position of the jaw or teeth. Our professionals here at O'Sullivan, DeLuca & Ressel Dental Care can go over any possible side effects in detail, and can help determine if Oral Appliance Therapy is the right choice for you.
Types of Oral Appliances
Oral appliances are used to prevent a patient’s airway from collapsing while they sleep either by supporting the jaw in a forward leaning position or by keeping the tongue out of the way. Over-the-counter devices should not be used as an oral appliance to treat sleep apnea. A custom fitted appliance is needed to be effective.
Although CPAP therapy is the most effective treatment, many patients do not want to be bothered by wearing a cumbersome facemask and sleeping with the noisy machine nearby. They feel it is much simpler to use an oral appliance because it is portable, small and easy to use.
There are different types of oral appliances. Each device is designed to treat a different aspect of sleep apnea. But all of them fall under two distinct categories. The first type is known as mandibular repositioning devices. These simply reposition the patient’s lower jaw forward and at a slight downward angle which helps to keep the airway open while sleeping. This is the most popular type of oral appliance.
The other type of appliance is known as tongue retaining devices. Though not as popular, they can treat mild to moderate sleep apnea by holding the tongue in place, so it does not loll back and close the airway.
Pros and Cons of Oral Appliances
The positive aspects of oral appliances include that they are more comfortable than CPAP masks. Many patients also complain about their noses being dry and itchy along with sinus problems. Oral devices do not have this problem. For active sleepers there is far less equipment to worry about bumping into when sleeping too. When traveling, patients have nothing to tote with them either.
Although there are some positive aspects of oral appliances there are some downsides as well. Some patients complain about jaw pain, soreness and tension along the jaw. Others report sore teeth and gums along with occasional dry mouth or conversely, excessive salivation. There are cases where wearing an appliance has loosened dental restorations including crowns, bridges and fillings.
Who Can Benefit From an Oral Appliance?
Those patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Patients who do not have sleep apnea but have problems with overly loud snoring. If a patient has tried CPAP but has not benefited from it, they can be a good candidate for oral appliances. When surgery such as tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, craniofacial surgery, or a tracheostomy has failed to yield results, oral appliances are also a good option.
Our office staff at O'Sullivan, DeLuca & Ressel Dental Care can discuss the available options for oral appliances. Please call (352) 666-9898 with questions or to schedule an office visit.