Dental Appliances for Snoring and Sleep Apnea
People who snore generally do not get a good night’s sleep and their sleep partners have their sleep disturbed too. The snoring person may also have obstructive sleep apnea which can shorten their lives significantly. Often our patients are motivated to seek treatment by their sleep partner. The snoring patient is often unaware of the severity of their problem.
Our office can make appliances which can help with the snoring, but first some things should be investigated before starting treatment. Since a majority of people who snore suffer from obstructive sleep apnea they should be evaluated for sleep apnea. This condition is much more serious and can shorten lives. There are also non-snorers who have obstructive sleep apnea.
How is obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed? The condition is diagnosed with a sleep study. This is either done at home or in a sleep lab. The study will measure respiration rate and oxygen saturation as well as other factors to determine if the condition is present. This study and diagnosis would be done by a physician specializing in sleep medicine.
Why and how is obstructive sleep apnea treated? Since the symptoms secondary to sleep apnea are very serious it is very important that obstructive sleep apnea be treated. There are several treatment options available.
1. A Constant Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine is one treatment choice and can be used for mild to severe apnea cases. This machine supplies air under pressure to a mask which fits over either both the mouth and nose, or covers the nose only.
2. In some cases surgery may be an option.
3. A third choice would be a dental appliance which repositions the lower jaw to open the airway in the throat area. Different appliances are used to treat snoring and sleep apnea but the sleep appliance will greatly decrease snoring. Dental appliances are indicated as primary treatment options for mild to moderate apnea and can also be used for non-compliant CPAP patients.
A second sleep study should be done to confirm the success of any treatment option.
By Billy C. Ballard DMD