If you have obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend an oral appliance as a treatment for your condition. An oral device is a lot more convenient than CPAP, which is a common sleep apnea treatment. The first step is to undergo sleep testing to find out what kind of sleep apnea you have and what is the most effective way to treat it. Here are a few things you'll want to know if you're a good match for getting an oral appliance.
How An Oral Appliance Helps Sleep Apnea
If you have obstructive sleep apnea, that means your airway becomes obstructed when you fall asleep. This happens when your muscles become so relaxed that they don't do a good job of holding your airway open. You're at a higher risk of airway collapse if you are overweight or have a misaligned jaw. Excess tissue in your nose or throat could also be to blame. Anything that puts pressure on your airway while you sleep could cause apnea.
One way to treat this problem is to wear an oral appliance. This is a device that fits in your mouth, much like a mouth guard. It helps sleep apnea by keeping your lower jaw pulled forward while you sleep. This holds your airway open even when the muscles in your jaw and airway become fully relaxed. You only have to wear the device at night when you sleep, and it is fairly comfortable to wear, so you get used to it quickly.
The Advantages Of An Oral Appliance
An oral appliance is a convenient way to treat sleep apnea. You can carry the device with you when you travel, so you never have to go a night without treatment. You can use it easily in a hotel or when you're camping because all you need is the device that fits inside your mouth. You'll probably find it a lot more comfortable than wearing a CPAP mask. And since it isn't connected to a machine, there is no noise to bother your sleeping partner at night.
How An Oral Device Is Fitted
Your doctor gives you a prescription for an oral appliance, and you go to a dentist to be fitted. The device is custom made to fit your mouth perfectly for the utmost comfort. A mold is taken of your teeth on your first visit, and this is sent to a lab to have the device made to order. On a following treatment, the dentist will further customize the appliance so it works effectively and feels comfortable in your mouth.
You may have another sleep study test done while you're wearing your new oral appliance just to make sure it is working like it should. With your airway held open by the appliance, you should no longer experience periods of apnea when you fall asleep. Once you get used to wearing the device, you should sleep much better at night so you are well rested the next day. Improved sleeping habits may enhance your mood, productivity, and overall health, so seeking treatment for sleep apnea is definitely worth it.