While snoring itself may be harmless, it can also develop into or be a symptom of a more serious medical condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
A dental appliance may help. Because it is a small plastic device, similar to an orthodontic retainer or an athletic mouth guard, it is worn in the mouth during sleep to prevent the soft throat tissues from collapsing and obstructing the airway. Dentists with training in this type of dental appliance therapy can design, construct, and fit these special appliances to meet their patients’ individual situations and conditions.
Alternatives to CPAP
In recent clinical studies, physicians and dentists have found that in a majority of patients, a well-made, well-fitted dental appliance can effectively reduce or eliminate snoring and may relieve symptoms of mild OSA.
Dental appliances work by bringing the lower jaw forward while holding the tongue forward, thus opening the airway. Dental appliance therapy is not a new idea. It was in use as far back as the early 1900s, but it was not until the 1980s that physicians and dentists began to work together to study and develop this alternative form of treatment enabling more patients to benefit from it.
Sleep dentistry appliance therapy offers many advantages:
- The appliances are relatively small and easy to wear. The appliance weighs only a couple of ounces, and its small size makes it easy to travel with. Most people find it takes no more than a few nights to become completely comfortable wearing the appliance.
- They are relatively inexpensive. The total cost of therapy is considerably less than the cost of alternative treatments.
- Treatment with a dental appliance is reversible and non-invasive (it does not involve surgery).
- Easier to sleep and travel with than a CPAP machine.
Interested? First see your physician. If you snore heavily and are interested in trying dental appliance therapy, it’s very important that you are thoroughly examined by a physician or a sleep specialist first. The examination may involve staying overnight at a sleep study center.
It’s important that this examination is done first, because you may have sleep apnea without realizing it. In a study conducted at Stanford University in California, one out of three chronic, severe snorers were found to have a harmful degree of sleep apnea that could lead to heart disease and stroke. After your diagnosis, bring your prescription for an oral sleep appliance to our dentists. For more information or a referral to a local sleep expert, call our Gastonia office today.