September 30, 2010

Sleep apnea – using oral appliances

When I wrote the first blog on Sleep Apnea, I was not intending for this much time to pass until the second, actually third. A short one about nasal mask liners was the second. I am a confirmed CPAP user, but I want to explore the area of oral appliances.

Yes, people do use oral appliances for sleep apnea. Oral appliances for sleep apnea have now existed for about 16 years. At one time oral appliances were only for mild to moderate sleep apnea. Now even severe obstructive sleep apnea can be handled by some dentists. Not all dentists are trained for treating sleep apnea, or I should say trained in sleep medicine.

Also be careful of dentists, and doctors, as well, that prescribe sleep apnea equipment without a sleep study. A sleep study tells the doctor or dentist the severity of your sleep apnea so that it can be properly treated. There are some of each on the internet where I would seriously wonder about their ethics. Some do have you do the home sleep study which is now accepted by most insurance companies.

For a discussion about oral appliances, read this. Oral appliances work very effectively for many sleep apnea patients. If you are interested, use the following link to find a qualified dentist, or try this link.

You will need to investigate oral appliances and talk to a qualified dentist as I have no experience other than having communicated with the dentist about two hours distant from me. She is very experienced and it was her advertising on the radio station I listen to, that woke me up to know that there were dental appliances for treatment of sleep apnea.

Oral appliances and oral appliance therapy is helpful for those that snore and have mild obstructive sleep apnea and do not respond to behavioral modifications such as weight loss or sleep-position changes. It is helpful for those with moderate to severe OSA who can not or will not tolerate nasal CPAP and those who are not open to tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy or other medical procedures.

Please research carefully any medical procedure as often they can make the condition worse and not solve the problem.

Currently there are about 70 different oral appliances available. They are classified into two main categories of oral appliances. The first is tongue retraining appliances and works by holding the tongue in a forward position by means of a suction bulb. This prevents the tongue from relaxing or collapsing during sleep and obstruction the airway in the throat.

The second category is the mandibular retraining appliances which reposition and maintain the lower jaw in a protruded position during sleep. This also opens the airway by indirectly pulling the tongue forward and stimulating activity of the muscles in the tongue and making it more rigid. It aids by holding the lower jaw and other mouth parts in a stable position to prevent the mouth from opening.

Dentists with training in oral appliance therapy and sleep medicine are familiar with the various designs of appliances. They can determine which oral appliance is best suited for your needs and will work with and consult your doctor as part of a medical team in your diagnosis, treatment and continued care.

The initial evaluation can several weeks or months to determine the most effective oral appliance, the fitting, adaptation of the appliance and function of the appliance. Continued care will include short and long-term follow-up to assess the effectiveness of the treatment, the condition of your appliance, how you are adapting to the appliance, and check the comfort of the appliance.

Oral appliance are generally comfortable and easy to use. Many find that in a couple of weeks they have become accustom to using it. Oral appliances are small and easy to carry when traveling.

Please check out these sites:  Site 1, Site 2, and Site 3.

There will be more blogs about sleep apnea.

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