Approximately 18 to 20 million people worldwide suffer from obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. This disorder is characterized by snorts and shortness of breath and gasps when asleep, which last for around 10 seconds. This pattern usually repeats five to 30 times within an hour, preventing you to have a restful sleep every night.
The symptoms are attributed to relaxation and collapse of throat muscles and blockage of oxygen flow. The following are the most common symptoms of sleep apnea that you should watch out for:
- Loud snoring that you already disturb the sleep of other people
- Waking up gasping for air or choking
- Waking up with a dry mouth or a sore throat
- Waking up with a headache
- Pauses in your breathing during sleep
- Excessive drowsiness during daytime
There have been various treatments for OSA, but many have been inefficient. Fortunately, there is now a range of oral appliances that general dentistry practices like Alta View Dental Care offer for the effective treatment of OSA. The following are some of these devices.
CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Devices
These devices are the first-line option prescribed for sleep apnea. CPAP devices comprise a face or nasal mask that is attached to a pump for the provision of positive air flow through the user’s nose. This way, the device will keep your airway open and minimize chances of its collapse while you sleep.
The device requires sealed tubing and connection to a power source to operate, however. And this is one of the reasons some people opt for other oral appliances that are much simpler for the treatment of OSA.
MAD or Mandibular Advancement Devices
These treatment devices work similarly to mouth guards or orthodontic retainers. They will shift your lower jaw and tongue forward and hence open your airway and prevent the vibration of your oral soft tissues. This also helps prevent your throat muscles from collapsing into the airway, which then allows for normal breathing as you sleep through the night.
MADs can be customized and adjusted to meet your particular requirements. Therefore, they are more effective for sleep apnea treatment compared to CPAP devices. The problem is they are only effective for patients with no missing teeth.
TRDs or Tongue Retaining Devices
These are customized devices comprising an anterior bulb. The bulb will use negative pressure to hold your tongue forward when you are asleep. TRDs are primarily used for sleep apnea patients who have missing teeth or broad tongues. They also suffice for patients who cannot adequately advance their mandible or have their jaw repositioned forward. They are, however, generally ideal for short-term use only.
You might dismiss OSA as a minor sleep inconvenience that needs no treatment. OSA, however, is a serious sleep disorder since it causes breathing to stop and start during sleep. It also increases your risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke secondary to frequent interruption of airflow and sleep. The above oral devices are therefore more than a solution to a seemingly minor sleep inconvenience.