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What Is Oral Appliance Therapy?

Oral appliance therapy is the use of an oral sleep device to keep your tongue, jaw, and teeth in a healthy position. The purpose of these devices is to maintain healthy breathing passages to prevent issues like sleep apnea and its related snoring problems, as well as teeth alignment problems like teeth grinding and jaw joint disorders.

These include custom oral appliances for sleep apnea, which are similar to retainers, but a bit more complex. Modern designs are customized for your specific bite, so there is minimal or no discomfort as you sleep. Treatment length depends on the severity of your case and the sleep doctor’s analysis, but they usually take a few months.

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Appliance for obstructive sleep apnea

Why Use Oral Appliance Therapy?

A sleep apnea mouth device can be considered a more portable, less cumbersome alternative to a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. While CPAP therapy is the most effective way to treat sleep apnea, it may not be necessary for cases that aren’t severe.

Using dental sleep appliances means you’ll get better sleep, which improves the quality of life in all areas, from family life to work. Because you’re not snoring as often or as loudly, it also improves the quality of life for your partner. Further, breathing better means your body gets more oxygen, contributing to improved healing and overall health.

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Contact us today for more information about how we can apply oral treatment for sleep apnea, teeth grinding, and jaw joint disorders.

Complications of Sleep Apnea

Who Can Benefit from Oral Appliance Therapy?

No matter how much we practice good oral hygiene and regular dentist visits, there are some problems that can’t be helped through conventional means. These are problems that affect us after we’ve fallen asleep. While we can’t control our sleep behavior, we can take measures to alleviate its damage with oral appliance therapy.  This treatment is geared toward treating the following sleep-related oral afflictions:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can create a nightly struggle to breathe. This happens when the tissues in the throat and tongue swell or fold to block the throat. At minimum, sleep apnea causes loud snoring, insomnia, and excessive daytime sleepiness; at worse, constriction of the airways can lead to cardiovascular problems and halted breathing.
  • Teeth grinding, or bruxism can be the result of many different afflictions, such as stress, missing teeth, or a misaligned bite. Along with the all-day headaches and jaw pain that result, there is also the risk of permanent tooth damage, including eventual loss.
  • Jaw joint disorders are the result of long-term grinding or clenching of teeth, which result from either or both of the above problems. The immediate concern is jaw pain and related headaches, and also the weakened bones and jaw muscles that result from prolonged abuse.

Please note that sleep apnea is diagnosed by a sleep doctor rather than a dentist, so if you suffer from insomnia or have received complaints from your partner about snoring, it’s advisable to seek a sleep specialist. S&C Dental remains ready to assist your sleep doctor with a custom oral appliance for sleep apnea once the diagnosis occurs.

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