Snoring is a considered a common occurrence in many adults, but did you know that your snoring may be indicative of harmful health conditions associated with your sleeping patterns? Snoring is a side effect of obstructive sleep apnea, a prevalent sleep disorder in many American adults.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea causes a pause in your breathing while you sleep at night because your airway collapses, resulting in a limit to the amount of air that reaches your lungs. Sleep-related health conditions can cause more harm than making you feel groggy or tired each morning after a full night of sleep.
In these cases, patients can opt to participate in a sleep study, where their sleeping patterns are assessed by medical professionals and treatment options become available. Some patients may opt for surgery or to use a PAP machine (positive airway pressure machines) to provide air pressure through a mask worn at night. However, there is another option for those who don’t want to elect for surgery or wear a mask each night: oral appliances.
What are oral appliances?
An oral appliance is considered a medical/dental device and is an option for patients to treat snoring, sleep apnea, or other sleep-related issues. They can be a great alternative to using a PAP machine or surgical intervention. Oral appliances are custom-molded to fit a patient’s mouth and usually contain the appearance of a sports mouthguard or a retainer.
How do oral appliances work?
Oral appliances are designed to treat sleep apnea, among many other sleep problems a patient may have. They typically work by positioning the jaw forward, which increases the size of the airway and reduces the air resistance caused typically by the tongue, which leads to snoring and sleep apnea. They’re not usually prescribed as an “end all, be all” solution, therefore, your doctor may assess your health and encourage certain lifestyle changes in conjunction with using an oral appliance.
What are the benefits of using an oral appliance?
There are several benefits to choosing an oral appliance over a CPAP machine. Firstly, oral appliances can be worn at night without using batteries or electricity, making them less noisy than a CPAP and because they’re compact, they’re much easier to travel with. Additionally, oral appliances fit inside your mouth similar to a mouthguard, so you won’t worry about knocking a mask off or having to wear a chin strap to keep your mouth closed while you sleep.
How do you know if an oral appliance will work for you?
Only you and your doctor can decide whether or not an oral appliance would work to treat your sleep issues. For those diagnosed with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, you might find that oral appliances are a more convenient option for you and your partner.
For those who have trouble sleeping, you’re likely no stranger to medical devices to help you sleep better. Whether you want to treat obstructive sleep apnea or sleep better, oral appliances are a great alternative option for patients wishing to forego CPAP machines or dental surgery.