If you find yourself feeling tired and unrested day after day, even after getting a whole night’s sleep, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. Not only does sleep apnea leave you feeling groggy, but it can increase the risk of a variety of health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and hypertension when left untreated.
Although positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy is the most effective method for treating obstructive sleep apnea, it may not be the right choice depending on the severity of your condition. Whether you aren’t a fan of AutoPAP therapy or you have a mild case of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if there are alternative treatment options. To better understand alternative treatments, ApneaMed has put together a guide for dental devices for sleep apnea.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes an individual to stop repeatedly breathing throughout the night. These cessations in breathing are often characterized by snoring, grunting, choking, and gasping while they sleep. Usually, people don’t realize that these breathing disruptions are occurring and are only informed when a partner lets them know.
The patient will stop breathing many times during the night, sometimes happening more than a hundred times. These cessations occur when the soft tissues in the throat collapse and block their airway, causing them to gasp in an attempt to open it back up.
While continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is often recommended as a treatment, patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea may alleviate the symptoms with a dental device.
Types of Dental Devices for Sleep Apnea
Like a CPAP machine, dental devices are used to keep the patient’s airway open while they sleep — allowing them to continue breathing all night long. Depending on the individual’s mild to moderate condition, a sleep specialist may recommend one of the following dental devices:
- Mandibular Advancement Devices – A mandibular advancement device is custom-fit to the individual’s mouth and made of hard plastic that snaps over the top of their upper and lower teeth. In some cases, the device may even be used to push the patient’s jaw forward to help keep the airway open.
- Mouth Guards – Used to slightly reposition the individual’s lower jaw, a mouth guard is an excellent alternative to a mandibular advancement device — and comes at much a lower price point. Unlike the option that is custom-fit by a professional, most mouth guards can be purchased over the counter and use the “boil and bite” method to fit their mouth.
- Tongue-Retaining Devices – If the patient’s tongue is falling back into their throat during the night and blocking the airway, a sleep physician may recommend a tongue-retaining device to hold the tongue forward throughout the night and prevent it from slipping back.
Before determining which form of sleep apnea treatment is best, you need to undergo a sleep study to find out how severe your obstructive sleep apnea is.
How to Perform a Home Sleep Apnea Test
Diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea is the first step to getting a better night’s sleep. With a proper treatment plan, you will feel more rested and alert throughout the day. By enlisting the help of a sleep specialist, you’ll be able to determine how severe your sleep apnea is and the best way to treat it.
ApneaMed provides a home sleep study as an affordable and convenient option that allows you to test for obstructive sleep apnea in the comfort of your home. The self-administered sleep study monitors your blood oxygen levels, heart and breathing rates, and how often your body moves blood oxygen saturation while sleeping. Following the at-home sleep study, one of ApneaMed’s board-certified sleep physicians will recommend treatment such as a dental device if diagnosed with sleep apnea.
If you have any questions about ApneaMeds’ unattended at-home sleep apnea test or our various sleep apnea treatment equipment, contact our team to learn more.