Oral Appliances in Treating Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a chronic sleeping disorder that causes the breathing to stop and start throughout sleep. There are several symptoms, including snoring, feeling fatigued, and waking up with shortness of breath during the night. Sleep apnea causes the brain and body to have inadequate oxygen, which has further consequences such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, diabetes, depression, and poor concentration.

This disorder can be effectively treated with oral appliances. The patient wears the appliance in his or her mouth during sleep, and the appliance keeps the tongue from collapsing. This keeps the airway open, allowing for maximal oxygen intake. The appliance is custom-made and personalized to fit the mouth; it helps reposition the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate, and uvula. It also functions to stabilize and tone the muscles of the tongue.

Oral appliances come in different forms, including a tongue retaining appliance and a mandibular repositioning appliance. The tongue retaining appliance helps keep the tongue forward using a suction bulb, which allows it to not obstruct the airway during sleep. The mandibular repositioning appliance keeps the lower jaw protruded during sleep, in order to pull the tongue forward, opening the airway.

These appliances are highly beneficial in sleep apnea treatment. They are comfortable and easy to wear. They are also conveniently sized and easy to store and transport, keeping the treatment at home. They are also much more effective than over-the-counter ones, because they are custom-made to fit the patient’s mouth and needs.

Oral appliances are proven to be highly effective, and help control sleep apnea in 50% of patients, including those with severe cases of the disorder. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a different sleep apnea treatment, but it is much more invasive as it involves wearing a mask and creates noise. Oral appliances are unobtrusive and inexpensive, yet effective.

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