Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by repeated episodes of interrupted breathing during sleep, leading to poor sleep quality, daytime fatigue, and a host of other health problems. There are a variety of treatment options available for sleep apnea, including continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, dental appliances, lifestyle changes, and even surgery. Two of the most common treatment options for sleep apnea are dental appliances and oral surgery. In this article, we will explore the similarities and differences between these two treatment options, and help you understand which one might be the best option for you.

Dental treatment for sleep apnea is often called oral appliance therapy, or mandibular advancement device (MADs). It is a custom-made mouth guard that is worn in the mouth during sleep. They work by repositioning the lower jaw and tongue, which helps to keep the airway open and reduce not only snoring but the number of episodes of interrupted breathing during sleep. Dental appliances are small, portable and easy to use. They are also non-invasive, making them a good option for people who are looking for a more simple treatment option.

On the other hand, surgical intervention is needed in some cases for treating sleep apnea. There are several different types of oral surgery that can be used to treat sleep apnea, including hypoglossal nerve stimulation, uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), genioglossus advancement, maxillary advancement, and hyoid suspension. These surgeries are typically performed by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) or oral surgeon, and are intended to remove or reposition excess tissue in the airway, in order to open it up and reduce the number of episodes of interrupted breathing.

While both dental appliances and airway surgery can be effective in treating sleep apnea, there are some important differences to consider when making a decision about which treatment option is best for you. Dental appliances are generally considered to be less invasive than surgery, and they are also easier to use. They can be easily removed and cleaned, and can be adjusted or replaced as needed. In contrast, surgery is more invasive, irreversible, requires a longer recovery time, and may result in complications such as bleeding, infection, or even scarring. Surgery also might not be suitable for some people with complex medical conditions.  Success rates for both types of treatment vary as well. Expected outcomes and side effects should be discussed with your medical provider prior to starting any form of treatment.

It’s also important to note that not all sleep apnea patients will be candidates for dental appliances or surgery. Every patient is unique and requires a treatment plan individualized for their needs and goals. For some patients CPAP therapy may be the best option. It’s important to work with a well trained care team including a sleep specialist, qualified dentist or ENT surgeon to determine the best treatment option for you, based on your specific condition and needs.

In summary, dental appliances and surgery are both viable treatment options outside of CPAP for sleep apnea, but there are some important differences to consider. Dental appliances are less invasive, and easier to use, whereas oral surgery is more invasive and has a longer recovery time. It’s important to work with a sleep specialist and an experienced dentist or oral surgeon to determine the best treatment option for you, based on your specific condition and needs. It’s also crucial to have regular follow-up to ensure the effectiveness of the treatment, and make any necessary adjustments.

If you are looking to treat your sleep apnea using oral appliance therapy near Denver or Castle Rock, CO contact our office by calling 303-688-6630.