Dental Appliances 101: Understanding the Types and How They Work
Dental appliances are devices that are worn in the mouth and reposition the lower jaw and tongue, helping to keep the airway open during sleep. These devices are commonly used as an alternative treatment option for people who have sleep apnea and find continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy uncomfortable or difficult to use.
There are several different types of dental appliances available, each with their own unique features and benefits. Some of the most common types include:
- Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs) – These appliances work by moving the lower jaw forward, which helps to keep the airway open during sleep. MADs are the most common type of dental appliance used for the treatment of sleep apnea.
- Tongue Retaining Devices (TRDs) – These appliances work by holding the tongue in a forward position, which helps to keep the airway open during sleep. TRDs are often used for people who have mild to moderate sleep apnea and find MADs uncomfortable.
- Hybrid Devices – These are combination of MADs and TRDs which offers additional advantages.
All of these types of dental appliances are custom-made to fit the patient’s mouth, and are small and portable, making them an ideal alternative to CPAP for people who find the device uncomfortable or difficult to use.
Dental appliances work by preventing the collapse of the tongue and soft tissue in the back of the throat, which can block the airway and cause sleep apnea. By repositioning the jaw and tongue, dental appliances can help to keep the airway open, reducing the number of episodes of interrupted breathing during sleep.
Why It’s Important to Visit a Dental Professional
While dental appliances can be an effective treatment option for sleep apnea, it’s important to work with a dental professional who is experienced in treating sleep apnea with dental appliances. This will ensure proper fitting and follow-up care, and help to maximize the benefits of the treatment. It’s also crucial to have regular sleep study to monitor the effect of the treatment, and to adjust the device if needed.
In addition, it’s important to keep in mind that dental appliances are not suitable for all sleep apnea patients, and the best treatment option will depend on the individual’s needs and condition. For example, people with severe sleep apnea or complex medical issues may require other types of treatment such as CPAP or surgery.
In conclusion, oral appliance therapy can be an effective alternative treatment option for sleep apnea patients who find CPAP uncomfortable or difficult to use. They are custom-made devices which reposition the jaw and tongue to help keep the airway open during sleep. It’s important to work with a dental professional who is experienced in treating sleep apnea with dental appliances to ensure proper fitting and follow-up care, and to maximize the benefits of the treatment. And also, it’s important to remember that dental appliances are not suitable for all sleep apnea patients.