Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that causes interruptions or pauses in breathing during sleep. This often occurs when the airways or throat is temporarily blocked, limiting flow in the airways.
OSA can cause symptoms like:
- Loud snoring
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
OSA can also increase the risk of serious health issues, such as high blood pressure, stroke and depression. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices have been used for years to treat patients with OSA. The device comes with a mask that has to be worn over the nose or on both nose and mouth. It is designed to push air through the nose and mouth to allow continuous airflow by keeping the airway open during sleep. CPAP devices can help improve sleep quality and lower blood pressure.
However, a CPAP machine does not work for everyone. Most people find wearing a mask over their nose and mouth to be intrusive and inconvenient. Some patients complain of discomfort, nose and throat dryness, and nasal congestion when using CPAP. Thankfully, CPAP devices are not the only solution for treating OSA. There are alternatives that patients can choose to try instead.
If you are not comfortable with CPAP therapy, you can try oral appliance therapy for a more comfortable and convenient treatment process.
How It Works
In oral appliance therapy, devices are used to prevent the airway from collapsing for smooth airflow. This is usually done by sliding the patient’s jaw forward or by holding the tongue in position to promote proper breathing during sleep. There are two main types of oral devices that you are likely to hear about.
Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD)
MADs work by positioning the jaw and tongue forward to increase airway space and reduce throat constriction. This helps you breathe better and prevents snoring and sleep apnea.
Some MADs are semi-custom or custom made to fit a specific person’s mouth. Other MADs, such as boil-and-bite MADs, are available over the counter. It is important to remember that since they are medical devices, they work best when designed and custom made to specifically fit your teeth and jaw.
Tongue Retaining Devices (TRD)
TRDs are splints used to keep the tongue in a neutral position and prevent it from falling into your upper airway. They prevent the tongue from blocking the airway and allow you to breathe properly. This device can be recommended if your tongue is the cause of frequent pauses in breathing during sleep.
Oral appliances are recommended for patients with mild to moderate OSA. They are also most effective when custom-fitted to the individual mouth. If you are suffering from sleep apnea and prefer oral appliances for your treatment, Dr. Samuel E. Cress, DDS can help. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and learn more about options.