Couple dealing with sleep apnea snoring

Do Sleep Apnea Dental Appliances Work?

If you’ve been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) you are probably familiar with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. CPAP is the most widely used form of treatment for sleep apnea. However, many patients suffering from mild to moderate sleep apnea find that a custom dental appliance can manage their symptoms.

Are you having trouble sleeping with your CPAP machine? Are the side-effects from the CPAP machine too much? You may want to talk with your doctor about a custom dental appliance for treating sleep apnea.

What Are Dental Appliances for Sleep Apnea?

Dental appliances for sleep apnea are used by millions of Americans around the country in place of a CPAP machine. A CPAP machine utilizes air pressure to help you breathe. A dental appliance holds your airways open, allowing air to move naturally through your airways and lungs.

There are two kinds of dental appliances for sleep apnea:

Mandibular Advancement Devices are the most commonly prescribed form of dental appliances for sleep apnea. MADs look similar to the typical mouthguards used by athletes, except that they snap over the upper and lower dental arches and shift the lower jaw forward. By adjusting the lower jaw, MADs hold your airway open while you sleep, allowing air to pass freely in and out of your lungs.

Tongue Retaining Devices are less common but still effective. Rather than shifting the lower jaw forward, TRDs are a splint that holds the tongue in place. TRDs prevents your tongue from slipping back into your mouth and closing off your airway while you sleep.

Dental appliances for sleep apnea are custom made for each patient. You must order one from a qualified dentist who can accurately measure and design the dental appliance so that it fits your mouth perfectly. 

Pros of Dental Appliances for Sleep Apnea

  • Cost Effective
  • Great for Travel and Camping
  • More Comfortable to Wear Than CPAP
  • Less Equipment Than CPAP
  • Fewer Complaints About Dry Mouth, Sore Throat & Irritated Sinuses
  • Great for “Active” Sleepers Who Move a Lot During the Night

Cons of Dental Appliances for Sleep Apnea

  • Can Be Initial Soreness in Jaw, Teeth and Gums
  • Temporary Salivating
  • The Muscles Can Relax and Create a Bite Change
  • Must Be Custom Fitted
  • Are Less Effective Than CPAP for Serious Cases

Who Should Get a Dental Appliance?

Patients who suffer from mild to moderate OSA, for whom a CPAP machine may not be necessary, are ideal candidates for dental appliances. If your sleep apnea is not severe, then a dental appliance may be a better option for you.

Dental appliances for sleep apnea are also an alternative for those patients who cannot tolerate a CPAP machine. A dental device may aid even patients with more severe symptoms if they find it impossible to sleep while using CPAP.

If you believe that a dental appliance may work in treating your sleep apnea, talk to your doctor or dentist