People with obstructive sleep apnea often try out various contraptions and devices to help in controlling their condition. However they might not be able to tolerate some of them, so it’s not uncommon to seek help from a dentist. In fact the American Academy of sleep medicine recommends dental devices for those patients who complain of mild to moderate sleep apnea. Devices like CPAP are recommended for those suffering from severe OSA.
One of the commonly prescribed dental devices is the Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) which is used to keep the airway open by forcing the lower jaw forward at the same time keeping it down slightly. Another contraption used is the tongue retraining device or the TRD which is in the form of a splint used to hold the tongue in place, again to open out the airway.
A sleep apnea patient can also opt for some orthodontic procedures like the rapid maxillary expansion. This involves placing a screw like device on the upper teeth which is found to help people with a narrow jaw line. It has to be tightened regularly. This is a nonsurgical procedure which reduces nasal pressure to a great extent thus facilitating easier breathing.
Going back to the dental devices, short term successes have been reported which may be an indication for long term relief. A periodical assessment of the device and replacement if required should be made. A lot of benefits have been noted in several cases, some of them are:
- Sounder sleep with few disturbances
- Better tolerance as compared to CPAP therefore better results
- Marked reduction in the frequency of snoring as well as in the loudness of snoring
Though better results have been found in people with mild to moderate sleep apnea, airflow is found to be considerably better in patients with severe sleep apnea.
One cannot overlook the disadvantages associated with these devices either. Commonly reported are
- Excessive salivation, discomfort in the mouth and teeth, dry lips and some amount of pain.
- Some irregularities in the position of teeth or jaw have been noticed on long term use.
- There are some rare cases where the sleep apnea may in fact worsen.
There are some dentists who are trained specifically in sleep medicine. Their knowledge and expertise is of great help to physicians in deciding the mode of treatment for people with sleep apnea. They make it a point to work with pulmonologists and general practitioners to get an in depth idea about the causes and features of sleep apnea exhibited by a particular patient. For this they observe tests like polysomnogram conducted on sleep apnea patients. Most sleep apnea dentists work in close collaboration with physicians because OSA is a medical condition and try to chart out a suitable regimen to be followed by the patient in order to control the condition.
Consult with the top San Diego dentists to find out options and procedures for curing sleep apnea.
The popularity of dental devices in treating sleep apnea has increased manifold lately and the good news is that insurance companies are willing to give coverage for fabricated dental contraptions used to counter sleep apnea.