Many snoring and sleep apnea patients are looking for more comfortable, less invasive alternatives to their current CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) treatments. Many of these patients will look for a sleep apnea dental treatment to solve their sleep and snoring problems. Custom Mouthpieces (Oral appliances) may be the best solution for many patients. However, only a comprehensive assessment by a Glendale-Montrose Sleep Apnea Dentist, taking into consideration health and comfort concerns, will provide information on the best options for each individual.
Individuals seeking treatment from a sleep apnea dentist should only consider services provided by qualified and trained personnel. Practitioners fitting oral appliances should have extensive knowledge in the field. A mistaken diagnosis may result in treatment that does not sufficiently improve breathing in sleep.
A custom mouthpiece (a.k.a. Oral Appliances) is designated only for mild to moderate sleep apnea and snoring caused by recurring blockage to the airway. Airway obstruction is caused by an anatomical limitation such as a large tongue, excess throat tissue, obesity, nasal obstruction or an enlarged uvula or tonsils. The seriousness of sleep apnea is determined by the number of breathing pauses per hour of sleep. These pauses may cause low blood oxygen levels. Sleep apnea should be treated because it can lead to severe consequences including high blood pressure, stroke, congestive heart failure and diabetes.
Before deciding on a form of treatment individuals should receive an initial evaluation with a sleep specialist. A referral from a dentist may be required for insurance.
Individuals with "severe sleep apnea" are usually not good applicants for oral appliances because the appliances do not fully solve the problem. CPAP treatment continues to be the best therapy for these patients. Dental sleep solutions are best for individuals with "mild sleep apnea."
Custom mouthpieces / appliances now come in a variety of styles and brands. One size fits all mouth guards are designed to treat snoring and may be used as night or bite guards. Custom fitted mouth pieces broaden the airway and avert upper airway collapse. These devices usually envelop the upper and lower teeth while repositioning or holding the lower jaw. Moving the lower jaw forward repositions the tongue and creates more airway space.
Although there are many pros, dental solutions for sleep apnea also has its cons. Some patients find their oral appliances uncomfortable. If the oral device is used improperly it can cause jaw joint pain, excessive saliva or dry mouth. In the long run, appliances may cause teeth misalignment, changes in bite and spaces between teeth.
Oral appliances are also expensive. On average a dental device will cost about $2,000. Unless a patient has excellent dental insurance their plan may only cover a fraction of the cost leaving them responsible for most of the charges. In addition, sleep apnea may worsen over time and the oral appliance that once worked may no longer prove useful. By comparison CPAP is typically half the cost of an oral appliance and usually requires smaller co-pays and up-front costs.
Individuals considering dental sleep apnea treatment should know there are other treatments available. Upper airway surgery, such as tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, may be a more successful treatment. Individuals who do opt for a dental device should attempt to sleep on their sides or stomachs. Breathing obstruction is usually worse when lying on one’s back. Using an oral appliance and CPAP to treat sleep apnea are not exclusive. Many patients use both depending on their condition.
With any sleep apnea treatment an individual chooses it is best to work in collaboration with a physician and dentist.
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