Sleep apnea is a serious, sometimes fatal medical disorder that affects around 25% of American men over the age of 40, and 15% of American women of the same age. 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:
Herbst Telescopic Appliance
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 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.
Silent Night Appliance
The Silent Nite® appliance is flexible, thin and comfortable, and it exhibits documented clinical success in mitigating or preventing the disruptive, unhealthy effects of snoring and mild sleep apnea. Silent Nite appliance positions the lower jaw forward using Slide-Link connectors that are attached to upper and lower appliances. These appliances are composed of a soft inner layer with a hard, durable outer layer, both of which are BPA-free. The connectors hold the jaw in a therapeutic position as determined by the dentist. Providing adjustability, the connectors are easily interchangeable if the lower jaw needs to be repositioned.
If you have questions or concerns about sleep apnea appliances, please give us a call.