Sleep apnea is a serious, sometimes fatal medical disorder that affects around 22 million Americans with 80 percent of the cases of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea undiagnosed. Sleep apnea sufferers completely stop breathing during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times in a single night. Normal breathing ceases because the airway becomes obstructed, causing a serious reduction of airflow to the lungs.
There are a number of dental devices that can be used to alleviate this condition. The goal of most of these devices is to separate the jaws and push them forward slightly. This slight repositioning opens up the airway and allows oxygen to flow freely again. Wearers of sleep apnea dental devices report that they stop loud snoring, feel more rested in the daytime, and are much more comfortable going to sleep. Sleep apnea appliances work best on patients who are not significantly overweight. They offer a viable alternative to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).
Sleep apnea appliances fall into two categories: fixed and adjustable. Here are brief descriptions of some commonly used sleep apnea dental appliances:
The Herbst appliance is held in the mouth by clasps and friction grips. It is made of acrylic and contains adjustable metal wiring. The advantage of this appliance is that the wearer is able to move vertically and laterally without dislodging the appliance. The Herbst appliance is usually used in mild and moderate cases of sleep apnea, however, it can also be used in severe cases when a patient refuses CPAP therapy. It can also alleviate loud snoring effectively
The MicrO2 is designed to be lingual-free and is intended to offer patients maximum tongue space. By not taking up space for the tongue, which most oral appliances do, the tongue has room to stay in the mouth where it is supposed to be, not blocking the airway. With more space for the tongue, the patient is able to wear the device more comfortably, and is ideal for alleviating symptoms.
If you have questions or concerns about sleep apnea appliances, please give us a call.
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